Mulching is the process of applying and spreading a protective layer of material on top of soil. Mulching, and by extension landscaping and groundskeeping, may seem like an easy job, but in reality, it can be dangerous. According to data published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 229 fatal occupational injuries were recorded amongst grounds maintenance workers in 2019, with landscaping and groundskeeping workers accounting for more than half of that figure. As such, hiring a professional mulch installation contractor nearby greatly reduces the chances of you getting injured when mulching your lawn and also gives you value for your money by making sure that you end up with a properly mulched lawn.
Before you hire a â€œnear me mulch installation contractorâ€, there are certain questions that you should ask. These questions serve to weed out duplicitous and unprofessional contractors, and they are:
Are You a Licensed Mulch Installation Contractor?
Mulching installation contractors generally require a pesticide applicator license because their job typically involves the application of pesticides and fertilizers. In addition to this, your mulch installation contractor may also require a landscaping license. The requirements for obtaining these licenses vary from state to state. For example, in states like Illinois, Florida, and Georgia, mulch installation contractors require only a pesticide applicator license. States like California and Louisiana, require a state-level landscaping contractor license in addition to the pesticide applicator license, while others like New York require a pesticide applicator license and a local-level landscaping license.
You can contact your local consumer protection agency to find out the licensing requirements for mulch installers near you. You can also verify any licenses that are presented to you by a contractor through the online portal provided and maintained by the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies.
Are You A Bonded and Insured Mulch Installer?
Hiring contractors that are bonded and insured is very important. When a contractor is bonded, you are protected from any financial losses if the contractor defaults on the job. Although bonding is generally not considered mandatory for mulch installation contractors, it is always a good idea to hire a bonded contractor.
In addition to bonding, your mulch installation contractor should be properly insured. In 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded over 12,300 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses amongst landscaping and groundskeeping workers and a fatal work injury rate of 19.8 per 100,000 workers amongst all grounds maintenance workers. Hiring an insured mulch installation contractor is very important because it insulates you from any financial liability if an on-the-job injury occurs during your project. Generally, every contractor near you is expected to have general liability insurance and workers compensation insurance.
Note that you should always ask for proof of bonding and insurance from any contractor that claims to be bonded and insured. Also ensure these documents are in line with the bonding and insurance requirements of your state of residence. You can contact your local consumer protection agency to find out these specific requirements.
What Kind of Work Are You Specialized In?
You may decide to mulch your lawn for several reasons, ranging from protecting your lawn soil from erosion to providing your lawn with a finished look. Whatever the reason may be, it is always a good idea to find out whether your mulch installation contractor is specialized in a particular type of mulching.
There are two types of mulches; organic mulches and inorganic mulches. Organic mulches are made from materials like bark, wood chips, straw, leaves, and grass clippings, while inorganic mulches are made from materials like stone, plastic, and brick chips. These two types of mulch each have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, organic mulches are cheaper, provide your lawn with a natural look, and also improve the condition of the soil that is mulched. However, organic mulch requires frequent replacement due to its high decomposition rate and it tends to create a habitat for insects and pests. On the other hand, inorganic mulches are more functionally versatile and require low maintenance. The disadvantage with them is that they are more expensive than organic mulches, require the use of chemicals to reduce weeds, and are more difficult to install.
Some contractors are more adept at handling organic mulches, while others are better at handling inorganic mulches. Also, some contractors have better experience with using machines like mulch blowers to install mulch while some can only install mulch by hand. These are all factors that should be taken into consideration when hiring a mulch installation contractor near you.
Who Will Do the Work?
Knowing who will be responsible for doing the actual work is important when hiring a mulch installation contractor. Some firms have several installers on their payroll who they assign to handle the contracts they get. Also, a mulch installation contractor may bring another worker or apprentice along to help speed up the job. Therefore, it is important that you find out exactly how many people will be involved in mulching your lawn, who these additional workers are, and if they are all properly licensed, insured, and bonded.
Do You Offer a Warranty?
A warranty is a guarantee that is given to consumers to assure them of the quality of the product and service they paid for. Different types of warranties are offered depending on the type of product or service that is purchased. For mulch installation projects, the type of warranty that is usually offered is known as a warranty of workmanship. This warranty ensures that the mulch is properly installed and covers any errors that may arise due to improper installation. Mulch installation contractors may also offer a materials warranty that covers any materials, such as chemicals and pesticides, that are used during the installation.
Note that warranties typically specify the period they cover and also the types of errors or damages that are covered. Always make sure that your contractor duly informs you of the warranty's requirements. Also, even though warranties can be oral or implied, it is always a good idea to make sure that you obtain a written warranty from your mulch installation contractor.
Will This Job Require a Permit?
As a general rule, a permit is usually required for any home improvement job that considerably alters the structure or footprint of your home. Mulching basically involves spreading mulch on top of your soil without significantly altering the soil, therefore it typically does not require a permit. However, some areas like Texas and Georgia require that mulching must be done according to certain standards and specifications. Note that some municipalities, cities, and counties may have local ordinances that require you to obtain a permit before starting a mulch installation job. An advantage of hiring professional mulch installation contractors near you is that they tend to know whether any permits are needed for your area of residence.
Will You Provide References?
Asking a mulch installation contractor for a list of references is a good way to weed out unprofessional contractors. According to a recommendation by the Federal Trade Commission, you should ask your contractor to provide you with the contact details of at least three customers for whom they have done a similar job. A professional contractor will be happy to give you contacts of satisfied clients near you and also provide you with pictures of other jobs that they have completed. In addition, you can look up a contractor you plan on hiring online through third-party review websites like Yelp,, and Better Business Bureau.
Do You Have a Business License?
Businesses that wish to operate legally in the country are generally required to register and obtain a business license. The Small Business Administration estimates that 99.9% of all businesses in the United States are small businesses. Many landscaping and groundskeeping firms belong to this category. The requirements for obtaining a business license vary from state to state. If your mulch installation contractor is properly licensed, insured, and bonded, then there is a good chance that your contractor also has a business license. However, it is always a good idea to verify the validity of your contractor's business license. You can do this by contacting your area of residence's consumer protection agency or Secretary of State's office.
What Are Common Mulching Problems?
Mulching has several benefits. These include protecting your soil and plants and preventing erosion. However, there are also some problems that are associated with mulching. These problems include:
- Waterlogging: improperly applied mulch can prevent water from penetrating the soil, resulting in your lawn having water-logged areas
- Fungal growth: the low oxygen atmosphere that mulching creates makes it a perfect environment for fungi to grow and thrive
- Stench: when organic mulch is left out for too long, its components begin to decompose and ferment, leading to an unpleasant odor
- Slug and insect infestation: slugs and insects can take over your mulch. This typically happens when too much mulch is applied
How Much Does Mulch Installation Cost?
The average cost of mulch installation is $175 - $250. Note that this figure can go as low as $100 or as high as $600. The amount of money you end up paying for installing mulch on your lawn depends on the type of mulch you want to install, the size of your lawn, and the cost of delivering the mulch.
The estimated prices of some common mulching materials are listed as follows:
Organic mulches per cubic yard:
Inorganic mulches per cubic yard:
What Are the Factors That Affect the Cost of Mulch Installation?
The main factor that affects the cost of mulch installation is the type of mulch that is to be used for the lawn. Organic mulches are generally cheaper than inorganic mulches. Also, before installing inorganic mulch, you may need to place landscape fabric underneath it. This typically costs about $15 - $20 per cubic yard.
Another factor is the size of the lawn. This determines the amount of mulch that will be used and how labor-intensive the project will be. Finally, the cost of delivering the mulch to your lawn also affects the total amount of money you will pay to get your lawn mulched. If your mulch installation contractor is responsible for purchasing the mulch, then this fee may be included in your bill. However, if you purchase the mulch yourself, then you will have to pay for this separately. Mulch delivery typically costs $50 - $200. Note, other associated costs like travel expenses, material carriage cost and other logistic costs may be limited by hiring a contractor near you.
What Qualifications Should Mulch Installation Contractors Have?
It is estimated that there are over 912,600 landscaping and groundskeeping workers in the United States. Generally, there are no educational requirements for becoming a mulch installation contractor, and most of them are trained on the job. However, contractors that apply pesticides and fertilizers are required to obtain a pesticide applicator license.
Some companies and associations also provide mulch installation contractors with professional certification opportunities. Contractors that have been certified in one or more landscaping courses tend to be more skilled, competent, and reliable than their counterparts.
Do You Need a Handyman or a Mulch Installation Contractor?
It is always a good idea to hire a professional mulch installation contractor to install mulch on your lawn instead of any handyman near you. Handymen are adept at handling various tasks, however, they generally lack any specialized knowledge. On the other hand, a professional mulch installation contractor is properly trained to lay mulch and has gained enough work experience to avoid most problems that occur when mulch is not installed properly, like over mulching. Also, a professional mulch installation contractor is more likely to have all the necessary licenses required for pesticide application and landscaping and is more likely to be bonded and insured.
What Are the Common Post Mulch Installation Expenses?
The most common post mulch installation expense is the cost of weeding your lawn. This typically costs about $30 - $50 per hour. If your reason for mulching your lawn is to add more nutrients to your soil, then you may also need to add fertilizer to your soil immediately after your mulch is installed. This is because mulch takes a while to break down, applying fertilizers can cost you $40 - $120.
Another common post mulch installation expense is the cost of mulch removal. This is necessary if you wish to change your mulch to a different type, a different material, or if you wish to rake it away and dispose of it. Mulch removal typically costs $100 - $175.
Note that your mulch installation contractor may also offer these services. You can ask them if they do so, and how much it would cost you. You can also inquire whether the cost of any of these services is included as part of your total mulch installation cost.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Mulch Installation Expenses?
As a homeowner, having a homeowner's insurance policy is very important. This insurance policy protects your property against various unexpected perils like fire, theft, falling trees, and lightning strikes. If you are installing mulch on your lawn as a result of damage that was caused to it by a peril stated in your homeowner's insurance policy, then it is very likely that your policy will cover some of the installation expenses. This coverage is usually about 5-10% of your dwelling coverage limit. Note that if you use your lawn for business purposes, your claim may be denied. You should always make sure that an insurance company clearly states all the conditions of their homeowners' insurance policy before you purchase one from them.
Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay My Mulch Installation Contractor?
More and more businesses today, including mulch installers near you, are willing to accept digital payment. Digital payments as a method of transacting business are considered more secure than cash and check transactions. They are also faster and better for record-keeping purposes. Note that you should always inform your mulch installation contractor that you wish to utilize a digital platform to pay for their services and confirm that they accept payments via this method. It is also a good idea to always collect a receipt from your contractor if you pay via cash or check.