Miles of Mulch

 In Design, Tips & How-Tos

A Word from Horticulture

In a recent “behind the scenes” project at NBG, our dump was thoroughly cleaned up while grinding, shredding and consolidating the material in it. In the midst of the project (run by Tolson Clearing, Grading and Demolition) there was well over a million dollars worth of equipment and several operators hard at work clearing and cleaning this critical area used on a daily basis by our horticulture staff.

One byproduct of this project was the generation of what we estimate at over 1200 cubic yards of high quality “double ground” mulch that is now being utilized extensively throughout our campus for bed and path mulching. Our visitors and guests frequently ask what happens to the woody material that ends up in the dump, and we’re excited to announce that this year’s clearing has produced a wealth of attractive material that they will be seeing (and walking over!) during their visits to NBG.

This is the first time we’ve been able to re-purpose so much of our woody waste. It was possible due to our decision to segregate larger woody material from other debris and the outstanding job performed by Paul Tolson and his crew, who went the extra mile to give us such a useful product. While it’s always painful to lose a tree, it’s reassuring to know that they are continuing to add to the beauty of our garden in a different form!

— Senior Horticulturist Tom Houser


In addition to weed suppression, mulching is a wonderful way to incorporate organic material to the soil over long periods of time, as well as help the soil retain moisture. As many people with more time these days turn to gardening, keep in mind that all mulch is not created equal. Avoid dyed mulches, plastic mulches, and if possible, try and choose bulk mulch that forgoes the plastic packaging. Pine straw is a wonderful resource for mulching that many of us have (sometimes in excess) in our yards, and is an option that we rely heavily upon at the Garden for certain displays. When mulching, remember to keep the base of the plant clear to allow air flow, and give a couple inches clearance around woody plants – no mulch volcanoes!

Horticulturist Scott Blair uses the NBG end loader to scoop up mulch from our dump and transport it to the main parking lot.  The pile he is drawing from is estimated to hold over 1200 cubic yards of highly useful mulch.


After dropping the mulch in parking lot island beds, Scott distributes and rakes it into a uniform layer. This mulch not only leads to a better aesthetic for our guests – it will help suppress weed growth, leading to less herbicide use.


Senior Horticulturist Linda Saunders used the mulch to top dress an inviting path leading to our Potager Garden.


Horticulturist Jeremy Breland uses mulch generated during our recent dump clearing project to top dress paths in our Sub-Tropical Garden.


Nearly 1,000 feet of the Lakeside Path in the Enchanted Forest have been top dressed using the mulch.  Using this mulch results in a much more pleasant walking experience while protecting vulnerable tree roots from damage by hikers and work vehicles.


Paul Tolson prepares to move his company’s bulldozer after using it to move materials and debris and grade the entire dump space.  The red vehicle to the right is the “shredder” that generated our beautiful mulch!

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