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You Can Grow It: Blowing bark is a fast way to spruce up your yard

Here's an easy way to freshen up your landscape without breaking your back.

BOISE, Idaho — Are you looking for a way to spruce up your home landscape without having to spend a lot of time and energy to do it? A blanket of bark mulch is a great way to make your yard pop with a clean, fresh look. And here’s a way to do it without hauling bags and pushing wheelbarrows.

Garden master Jim Duthie shows us how easy it is to get that fresh look in your landscape, and save your back, by having the bark mulch blown into place in minutes. And all you have to do is sit back and watch.

This apartment complex is getting a landscape makeover of sorts today, without using any shovels or rakes, or replacing any plants. Instead, they’re having a layer of fresh bark mulch blown into place around the buildings and among the shrubs, giving the grounds a fresh new look.

In minutes, bare ground is covered with two to three inches of bark mulch that not only provides beauty and curb appeal, but acts as a natural weed barrier, and retains moisture for the plants.  And it only takes minutes to put down. No bags. No wheelbarrows. No raking and leveling.

“You’re saving time, you’re saving money, and you’re just beautifying your yard,” said Shawn Mead, General Manager, Bark Blowers. “You’re giving your yard a lot more benefits than what it had before. You’re creating a weed barrier, you’re creating moisture control, and you’re creating food, basically, for your plants.”

Bark Blowers is one of a number of landscape companies in the Treasure Valley that provides this service, for both commercial and residential customers, as well as municipal parks and playgrounds. And if you’re selling your home, you’ll get instant curb appeal with a fresh blanket of mulch around your flowers and shrubs.

“I talk to the customer to see what they’re looking for. What is their goal? A lot of the time, if you’re just selling your home, they’ll go for a refresh, but 90 percent of the time, if they’re staying there, they go with the inch-and-a-half to two-inch base on top of their old bark. Because you don’t have to remove your old bark at all.”

The process is simple. The bark mulch is fed from the back of the truck into a blower, which then blows it through a large flexible hose about 200 feet long. The operator applies the mulch, much like a firehose, to foundation areas, tree rings, and around existing shrubs and plants. The process can lay down up to 25 cubic yards of bark in as little as 45 minutes.

The result is an even blanket of mulch two to three inches deep. Operators then follow-up to clean up any stray bark that may have blown onto adjacent sidewalks or in the grass.

Shawn recommends a three-inch base of bark mulch for bare areas, and then refresh it with an inch or two of new mulch every two to three years or so to keep it looking fresh and new. And there’s no need to put down a fabric weed barrier, since the mulch will pretty much smother out any new weeds that try to pop up.

“You want to start out with a base, and once you get your base built up, or you start straight out with a three-inch base, that will eliminate the weed barrier you have to put down, because that third inch gives you the weed barrier.”

And there are options as to what type of bark mulch you prefer.

“I carry three types of bark. I carry a medium bark mulch, which is 1/2 to 3/4 minus in size, about the size of a thumbnail, and that’s what we put down out here.”

“And this is my most popular bark. This is the stuff that’s going to give you the best weed barrier, hold its color a lot longer, and it’s going to feed our plants underneath as it breaks down.”

“It’s golden when it’s wet. That’s another reason why I put it down, because it looks so nice when it’s in there.”

“And I carry a small bark nugget, which is 3/4 to one inch in size. That’s more the decorative bark.”

“This is what I call my shredded bark.”

“And that’s actually a great pathway bark that you can put in pathways and walk on it.”

“It’s great for hillsides.”

In addition, they carry soft chips for use in playgrounds, certified safe by the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association.

Using a company like Bark Blowers allows a lot of savings in time and in labor. You can have it blown in instead of having to carry it with a wheelbarrow.

Bark Blowers, and other companies like theirs, offer free estimates for your landscape projects. Prices typically range from $55 to $65 per cubic yard, and usually require a minimum amount.

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