Mulch is a great way to improve soil and control weeds. However, you need to know how to keep mulch from losing its color.
Mulch can retain its color by:
1. Turning and mixing it regularly
2. Applying a thin layer of new mulch over old mulch
3. Using synthetic mulch
4. Watering moderately
5. Keeping the mulch sheltered from the elements
Additionally, mulch can be dyed when the color fades by using mulch dyes.
There are a number of ways to retain the color in your mulch. The method you choose will depend on what kind of mulch you have and how much you want to spend. In this article, I’ll share a number of different methods that can keep your mulch from losing its color.
Why Does Mulch Lose its Color?
Everything has a time limit in this world, as does the mulch, only if not cared for properly. Among many reasons for this problem, one is that when the mulch is exposed to a lot of sunlight, it will have negative effects on the mulch.
Sunlight is essentially a bleaching agent. The color of mulch will fade because it is exposed to natural sunlight; this is known as “Photodegradation.”
That is why you should check on the mulch from time to time.
But isn’t mulch placed to protect the soil from the sunlight in the first place? Yes, it is there for that job.
Mulch can only function properly if it is being maintained over time. If not, then it will keep on working for about 4 to 5 months or 1 year, depending on the type of mulch you choose.
The second reason may be that some weeds can still penetrate through the mulch and reproduce on it.
That will also negatively affect the functionality of mulch, and of course, its color will start to get dim. That is the reason why experts suggest changing or adding mulch over the old one to keep things running smoothly and keep the mulch’s color intact.
If you need to replenish your old mulch, here's a good option that works great, and will add nutrients to the soil over time.
Which Mulch Fades the Fastest?
Organic or natural mulch tends to fade faster than synthetic or artificial mulch.
The reason is that when you use organic mulch like leaves or wood chips, you know very well that they lose their color faster. The leaves become yellow, and the wood chips’ color starts fading.
However, that does not mean that you should not use organic mulch at all; in fact, it is better for your soil than artificial mulches.
Organic mulches can add organic matter to soil as they break down. In addition, they can also be mixed into the soil to help speed up the process.
Which Color of Mulch Fades The Least?
Artificial mulches fade the least. Rubber, plastic, and painted stones tend to last longer than organic mulches as the applied colors can withstand changing weather conditions for long periods. Keeping mulch sheltered can prolong its color retention.
Even when the toughest color is applied, some of these mulches will lose their color with the passage of time. As you have read, natural mulches are among those which fade at the fastest rate.
The more natural the mulch is, the faster its color will fade. So, to prevent this from happening, consider going for brown or black mulches that are dyed in that color.
By doing so, you will not have to worry about color loss for at least a year. That is why most gardeners prefer to use dyed black or brown mulches instead of standard natural mulches.
Tips for Maintaining Mulch Color
The mulch’s color is fading, and you must act fast to avoid the problem as this could mean the mulch is getting weak. Let’s find out how you could deal with it.
1. Turn and Mix the Mulch
This is what you should do yearly, as it is among the more straightforward ways. You would have to turn the mulch upside down or whichever is necessary to make it look relatively new and fresh.
The bottom of the mulch, which was protected from the sunlight, will then be exposed to the sunlight and will add to the mulch’s credibility for some more time.
2. Reduce Mulch Exposure to Mulching
That’s correct. You should reduce the mulch’s exposure to mulching, which means that you try to expose the mulch to the daylight whenever it is vital, but not more than that.
In simpler terms, keep the mulch, in a manner, protected and unexposed to the light to preserve its color. That way, the color will likely keep its freshness for additional time.
3. Avoid Flooding and Excess Water
Watering the mulch is good, and it is essential, but that doesn’t mean that you can water it as much as you want, simply because you want your mulch to be the best.
A study also confirms this theory that one should always provide water as the mulch’s requirement. So, you can use this technique to lower the risk of mulch color loss.
4. Apply a Layer of New Mulch Over Old Mulch
This is the most recommended and effective method to preserve the mulch’s color and make it look fresh and new all the way.
You simply have to use some new mulch or a layer of it to put down the older and fading mulch. As you can guess, the mulch will start to look new and fresh.
There is one thing to consider here, which is not to make the mulch overly thick by adding the new one; as you would probably know:
The ideal and suggested thickness or density of mulch is around 3 inches, give or take.
If you make it thicker than that, there will be no easy access to oxygen, moisture, and needed sunlight. Or, if you make it thinner than that, the cannabis (weed) plants will penetrate through the mulch and keep on surviving.
5. Use Rubber or Synthetic Mulch
If you want to kill the nib in its bud, you would prefer to use rubber mulch. The rubber mulch is an artificial mulch made from rubber, and the rubber mulch’s color does NOT fade with time. On the other hand, rubber mulch is also suitable for your soil as it can do all the tasks of a natural mulch.
However, it does have its ups and downs, but that is not the point. If you are solely focusing on keeping the mulch color from fading away, rubber mulch is your answer.
6. Spray the Mulch with Dye
Applying dyes to mulch that has already been sitting for some time is an easy way of renewing old mulch without the hassle of removing and replacing it with new mulch, which can be costly.
Dyes when used correctly can prolong the life and vigor of mulch and can be done by using a simple garden sprayer which we will discuss further down in this article.
Can You Spray Paint Old Mulch to Look New?
Yes, you can. It is a good way to make the mulch look fresher and new. You can find many mulch paints in the market that are specially designed to spray older mulches.
Both the color and the water are mixed together to create this paint, and then it is sprayed over the color-fading mulch.
You can spray all you want, but you can’t deny that you are just improving its look, not its health.
In other words, you are spraying to hide the problem but not dealing with it. That will impact your mulch, and it will get weak over time.
Using Colorant to Dye Mulch
Mulch dye can be applied Restores faded mulch & add instant curb appeal by restoring its color not to mention the savings since the mulch does not have to be replaced.
Be sure to protect plants by covering them with cloth or plastic. Additionally, surrounding areas should be barricaded.
Start one side of the way of the plant or flower bed and apply across and work your way out of the bed. This prevents freshly dyed mulch from being disrupted.
Most mulch dyes would recommend that it be applied once but we have found two applications of the dye can result in the color, lasting for an even longer period of time.
If you would like a more lasting effect we would recommend choosing a darker colored dye. Maybe one with a more chocolate tone.
Is Dyed Mulch Better than Normal Mulch?
The dyed mulch looks good when applied, but it is not a good choice for your soil. The dyed mulch will function just like the standard mulches during its lifetime.
It will keep the soil moist, stop the weeds from growing, and conserve moisture. But it will NOT decay to get mixed with the soil and benefit it.
The color painted on this mulch is not natural, which means eventually, it will fade and leave the mulch after it cannot function anymore.
So, while sliding off the mulch, the color, which has several dangerous compounds, will come in contact with the soil, and you know that it is definitely not a good thing to happen.
How Do You Keep Mulch Looking Fresh? (without dye)
The freshness is relative and will eventually go away. But there are some ways you can ensure that your mulch looks fresh; if not stays fresh.
Inorganic mulches tend to stay fresh for a long time or dyed mulches because they have an extra layer of protection against the sunlight.
So, what can you do? The easiest way would be to put an additional layer of new mulch to hide the older mulch. But if it is too late. If the older mulch is beyond saving, it is time to remove it completely to put a new mulch in its place.
Moreover, you can check if there is an abnormal growth of weeds around or on the mulch. They can also dull the look of mulches. If you happen to find those weeds, remove them quickly. Or you can also put additional mulch on those weeds to stop them from growing any more.
You can also go for totally mixing the old and new mulch to give it a new and fresh look. Be sure to keep your mulch from washing away by applying a durable mulch barrier.
People may think that they have put the strongest mulch in place and no wind can harm or blow them away, but sometimes winds can actually make a mess of mulch if not applied correctly.
Therefore, it is essential to use mulches that are pretty weightier. Mainly this issue occurs in the hilly areas where the wind pressure is stronger.
No matter what you do, the mulch’s color will fade away eventually because it is bound to do so. The mulch spraying, turning, or mixing are effective but temporary solutions.
You should go for the permanent one. Using natural mulch is the best course of action here.
You would have to change or replace the mulch once every 3 or 4 years, which is not very difficult, right? By doing so, you will avoid the added complications of other methods, and your soil will be all good.
Please let us know what you think about how long we should keep using the same mulch by commenting below. You can also comment down below if you have any other questions related to mulch.