They are all popular ways to top-dress flower beds. Compost, mulch, and wood chips add organic material to the flower bed, retain moisture, and add elegance to the overall design.
Landfill compost is easily the best flower bed topdressing. It’s rich black look is striking against plants. In addition, it has more organic matter than most compost.
Landfills have a huge advantage over nurseries. People have to pay them to bring the raw materials to make compost. For this reason, their compost is always cheaper and in fact better than nursery compost. The only slight downside is that landfill compost has more weed seeds mixed in than nursery compost.
Many cities have sewer sludge from cleaning out the sewers. They use this material and mix it with the compost. So, much of the organic matter is sometimes human. If you want to know, just ask the landfill; not all landfills do it this way.
Most nurseries carry a product called Soil Pep. It comes in bags or by truckload. It is very similar to landfill compost. It is a good product, but will cost you a little more.
Since landfill compost is such good quality and cheap many companies hoard it. Most landfills run out of it every year. Once the compost becomes available, some companies send large 10 wheel trucks to take many many loads to their holding yards. In this way, these companies won’t run out in mid summer.
Mulch is often a misused term. It can mean a variety of topdressings (like rubber mulch) or even grass clippings. Keep in mind that when people say mulch you will need to ask for further clarification.
Many tree companies take their trees and grind them down into wood chips. Sometimes these companies will give you a discount.
Don’t get the landfill wood chips. They are usually badly shredded up pallets and don’t look good.
The best wood chips are made of cedar or redwood. This wood not only looks better, but will also last much longer. When comparing prices, find out what you type of wood chips you are getting. Usually, a slightly cheaper wood chip is a much less attractive product.
Spray wood chips down once a year with linseed oil. It will make them look better and lust much longer. In general, you should plan on replacing flower bed topdressings every two years. This means adding a little every year; not taking out the old.