• Sticks and Stones

    Natural Stones can be used in a variety of ways when designing the layout for your yard. Whether you decide to use them in developing a pond, establishing walkways, or building a rustic wall, here are some tips to get you started:

    1. THINK BIG It’s important that you consider the entire area available to you for hardscaping before you design an element, even if you’re just tackling one space for now. It would be a shame to build a beautiful pond only to realize it will not work with the patio you desire a year later.

    2. DON’T FORGET MOTHER NATURE. Drainage, run-off and erosion can easily be fixed with the proper placement of stones by constructing a retaining wall, rain garden or a walkway. However, what is often the best solutions to these tricky landscape dilemmas, can do a number on one’s yard if you don’t take them into account and carefully plan your natural space.

    3. BLEND your stones into the space. A large boulder dropped right on top of the ground may end up looking like a dinosaur egg. Using stones that are large enough to fill the space is important, by buring them deep enough they look like a naturally-occurring element. Work with the natural lines of the space by including curves to transition gracefully into the rest of the landscape.

    4. STOCK UP on whatever material you decide to use, brick, stone or another material. By buying a little more than you need for the project, you’ll be able to use the extra materials to accent other parts of your yard creating a more unified finished product.


    Check out some of the products we offer in our gallery, or visit us at the shop!

  • The Low Down on Lovegrass

    Weeping lovegrass is used as a ground cover mainly for erosion control purposes.  It provides cover on steep outer slopes and flourishes in a light-textured, well-drained soil. Once it germinates, the plant grows easily and thrives in areas with plenty of sunlight.  It’s bulky root mass help to stabilize soils.

    Through Atlantic Mulch’s “organic seeding” process you can enjoy the same success many contractors have experienced .  Organic seeding with compost provides the necessary germination media which is the key to the plant thriving. The compost holds moisture in and around the seed throughout the ¼” blanket (any deeper and you risk non-germination) for the necessary period of time.   You can seed it alone at a rate of 3 to 5 pounds per acre, or 1 to 2 pounds per acre in mixtures with other species.  Once the seed germinates, plant growth is rapid. It provides almost immediate cover on steep outer slopes and will grow to a blade length of 24”. Normally, weeping lovegrass can be planted throughout the summer with success. Two cuts a year is optimal for the existing grass seedlings to germinate and for the overall health of the plant.

    It is low maintenance only requiring trimming twice a year and highly successful as an ornamental and erosion control plant! Contact us today for more information.

    See our Love Grass project with Greenscapes

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  • How Much Mulch?

    However, figuring out how much mulch you need can get confusing. If busting out the measuring tape, crunching numbers, entering data into complicated calculators and taking a million trips to the store sound like a frustrating way to spend your weekend, check out this chart and let us take the hard work out of yard work.

    PDF available here.

  • Turn Your Yard into a Peaceful Oasis Overnight

    One of customers took the challenge and transformed their ordinary yard into a beautiful landscape overnight. The process is simple and our team will guide you through each step. With a variety of supplies and materials available to fit your needs, Atlantic Mulch will deliver everything you need right to your to your lawn.

    Step 1: Select the location and dig a hole. (hint: you can use a garden hose to lay out the footprint!) [singlepic id=270 w=320 h=240 float=center]

    Step 2: Once you’ve dug and prepared the hole, lay your under layment, so that it covers the area, this provides some cushion to prevent rocks from tearing through your liner and then lay your pond liner on top. [singlepic id=271 w=320 h=240 float=center]

    Step 3: Begin adding aggregates along the border and bottom of your pond then begin filling it up with water![singlepic id=272 w=320 h=240 float=center]

    Step 4: Once the water levels begin to rise you can keep adding the aggregate of your choice. This ensures that the tarp and lining stay in place and it allows you to manage the stone and water levels. Create the outer perimeter with stones to cover the liner and blend into the surrounding area.[singlepic id=274 w=320 h=240 float=center]

    Step 5: You did it! You now have a wonderful backyard oasis! Sit back and savor your success![singlepic id=278 w=320 h=240 float=center]

    This is just another example of how Atlantic Mulch takes the hard work out of yard work. All the products you need in one place, plus guidance, delivery, and instruction while still allowing you the economical advantage of doing-it-yourself.

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  • Raleigh Homeowners Mulch More Than Just About Anyone

    According to Google Insights, only people in Cleveland and Philadelphia submit more searches for “mulch” than people in Raleigh.  The great bulk of this mulching happens in March, April and May.   Check out the cool interactive chart below.

    People in North Carolina know that the combination of severe heat and frequent showers make controlling moisture in plant beds a real challenge.  Ground covers like mulch help diffuse heat and water, regulating moisture and preventing erosion.  Also, with many municipalities recently banning the use of pine straw, mulch has become the most effective way to make a yard look great!

  • Two Local Landscape Companies Partner for PBS Special

    Filming just wrapped on an upcoming episode of Growing a Greener World (PBS) with Joe Gardener that will feature local companies Nature’s GREEN-RELEAF™ and Atlantic Mulch. The award winning gardening program selected these companies as the premier compost producer and distributor in the region.

    Growing a Greener World features the latest in gardening trends, sustainability, and eco-friendly living. This episode will feature a behind the scenes look at how sustainable, commercially-produced compost is made, how to know the quality of what you’re buying, and how it’s best used. It will also feature a close up of delivery and installation methods for Do-It-Yourselfers with bulk delivery for ultimate cost-savings, super sacks for spot placement, and even state-of-the-art blower truck tech (What would take a 3-man crew a whole day to spread, can be achieved in just one hour).

    Get an insider’s view of how it’s all made and all the wonderful benefits so you can be sure that you’re making the right choice for your lawn and garden.

    The episode is scheduled to air in mid-July.  Sign up here to receive a reminder to tune in!

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    See Nature’s GREEN-RELEAF products at Atlantic Mulch.



  • US Composting Council Introduces the Consumer Compost Use Program!

    Ronkonkoma, NY – Aug. 25, 2011 – The US Composting Council (USCC) is pleased to announce that it will formally launch its Consumer Compost Use Program at the 2011 Garden Writer’s Association conference on Aug. 26 & 27 in Indianapolis, IN.

    The Consumer Compost Use Program takes the USCC’s STA Program to the next level, and to the retail consumer, in an easy to understand format. The USCC created and has managed the Seal of Testing Assurance Program (STA) since 2000. The STA Program is a compost testing, labeling and information disclosure program whereby compost producers must test their compost anywhere from quarterly to monthly,based on production tonnage. The compost test suite, arrived at through a consensus process that included the leading compost research scientists and industry experts from across the US, includes chemical, physical and biological compost tests. It also includes EPA testing for health and safety standards (pathogens and metals). The results, along with feedstock information and specific compost use directions, are required to be disseminated to all prospects and customers.

    The STA Program has achieved a high level of success among professional users such as; Departments of Transportation (several specify STA compost ONLY for their landscape projects), landscape architects, landscapers, soil suppliers and others. The STA data, however, is just that; data available for interpretation by professional users. It is not a program designed for the retail consumer.


    The Consumer Compost Use Program will require compost producers that participate in the STA Program to link the analytical data to 3 compost use classifications. They are; Lawns, Trees & Shrubs and Flower & Vegetable Gardens. Each compost use classification will be represented by easily interpreted icons that reflect the use (or uses) of the compost product. These icons are expected to become part of STA compost producers’ literature, websites and packaging, and will also be available on Compost Use cards in garden centers and nurseries. USCC President, Frank Franciosi, said, “We now have an easy way for the homeowner to identify quality compost products that can be applied to their specific gardening needs.”

    The USCC will launch the Consumer Compost Use Program along with a ‘Strive for 5%’ campaign. This campaign is designed to reinforce the idea promoted by gardening experts that soils should have 5% organic matter and that to maintain or increase to this level, STA compost is the product to use! Compost can be purchased at landscape supply centers, nurseries and building supply centers in bulk or packages around the country. The use of STA compost will help consumers confidently achieve 5% organic matter efficiently and cost effectively by using compost, produced from locally recycled organic residuals.

    Please visit the US Composting Council’s website at www.compostingcouncil.org, for more information on the Consumer Compost Use Program, ‘Strive for 5%’, a list of STA compost producers and all issues related to compost.

  • Isn’t Mulch Just Mulch?

    Every day clients call looking for mulch.  When I or my team poses the question, “What type are you interested in?”, the response is frequently “well, I don’t know – just mulch.”  It’s much like my attitude towards shoes – I don’t care what kind of shoes I get, I just want something brown.  The fact is, I should care what kind of shoes I get.  A well-fitting shoe designed for my intended activity simply makes for good feeling feet.  If you’ve ever found yourself hiking in loafers, you know what I mean.  The same could be said for mulch, as certain types of mulch are much better suited for certain types of applications (and most types are available in brown!).

    Why are you mulching?

    It is important to understand the client’s intended application for the mulch. A few examples are:

    • To help build soil content through introducing a layer of organics
    • To give the area a fresh look with a vibrant color
    • To control eroding areas or slopes
    • To provide a comfortable clean area to relax or play
    • To prevent weed growth for a low maintenance

    Organics v. Durability

    The first question I ask, “is this a newly formed plant bed or an existing one that needs refreshing”.  If they respond with “a new plant bed”, I will suggest the first application consist of a highly organic product that will breakdown easily to begin enhancing the soil structure.  Pine Bark or Hardwood bark are the two that we suggest for first time application with pine bark for plant beds with woody type plants.  If their response is “an existing area”, then we discuss how often they have mulched (frequency) the area in the past, the normal depth (inches) per application, and the last mulch used (hardwood, cedar, pine, etc.).  From there we evaluate whether more organic matter is necessary, and if it is not, then we can begin to discuss personal preference.

    Color & Aesthetics

    If color longevity is a chief priority , try using a color enhanced mulch.  Ultra violent rays bleach the color from natural mulch quickly, with hardwood bark color lasting only six months and pine park a little longer at nine months.  Of course, some discretion should be given to the amount of direct sunlight the area receives.  As a remedy for this problem, I suggest looking at a mulch that has been color enhanced such as our designer mulch or dyed triple hardwood for a product that offers a year or more of color.

    Our designer mulch is the best product for color longevity.  It is a recycled product made from wood pallets that are hand selected and passed through a grinder.  The grinder has two large magnets that remove any significant metal that may be present.  The designer mulch is derived from the same material as the certified playground fiber, so it can not contain pallets that were previously chemically treated or used to ship chemicals.  The pallet material is extremely dry and porous and thus absorbs the dye deep within the particle producing a vibrant end product.  It is dyed through a process called ion-oxidation, which research has proved to be the best method for coloring.  I have customers that purchase a small load of “Designer” mulch every second year simply to refresh their last application as the previous installation had held up so well with color and deterioration.

    Erosion Control

    Erosion is a serious problem that slowly changes the contour of a landscape, clogs sewer and drain pipes, and pollutes our waterways with silt.  If my client needs a material to stop the loss of soil on a slope, I will guide them towards a mulch with a stringy, binding content.  Hardwood bark is my favorite for erosion control as it can hold a tremendous amount of moisture to help weigh it down while its stringy fibers help lock it in place.

    If there is a direct water flow channeling through a specific area, I will then suggest looking at inorganic mulch such as rock or decorative gravels.  I have yet to find a river or creek bed lined with mulch.  However hardwood mulch is used in retention ponds as a filter media to trap and collect silt.


    What if you have a small area the family dog enjoys, but his playfulness and activity has turned it into a mud pit?
    Cedar mulch would do an excellent job because of its hardiness and odor.  Cedar is very slow to break down, and is often used in areas where there is a lot of activity or traffic such as a foot path.  The scent of cedar has also proved to be a natural insect repellent, so “Fluffy” can enjoy a dry, pest-free area to relax and play.

    Planning & Maintenance

    Finding time to continually maintain plant beds and natural ares is hard to do.  You could introduce a pre-emergent to help suppress weed growth.  This comes in a granular form and should be applied before you mulch. However a good coating of mulch can also work wonders on alleviating potential weed problem.  A thick layer of mulch will help to suppress weeds, but if one or two do pop up, it will be easy to remove due to the looseness of the new mulch column.  Also, the designer mulches or cedar mulch do not breakdown into organic matter as quickly, so they do not provide the organic base that can promote potential seed growth.

    Make sure that any mulch you chose has gone through a “cooking” or “curing” process to alleviate any weed seed.  I do not suggest using stumps, or land clearing debris that has been processed into mulch, as it often contains a certain soil content that can transmit weed seed.  Also, try and make a trip around your yard twice a week to catch those few that do pop up.

    It’s not just “Mulch”

    Mulch is just not “mulch”, and as you see, certain types are better suited than others for specific applications, or issues.  Don’t just buy your mulch as I buy my shoes, find one that fits you!

    For a comparison guide look for the “Mulch Rubric” in the details of our mulch products on our website. It’s an easy way to choose what’s best for you.

    MulchesDurabilityColor LongevityMoisture RetentionInsect RepellentWeed SuppressionErosion ControlNutritional ValueSusceptibility to Fungus
    Triple Shredded Hardwood Bark MulchFair6 months515ExcellentBest5
    Designer MulchesBest18 months324FairGood1
    Certified Playground MulchBest8 months224FairPoor1
    Triple Shredded Hardwood Bark Mulch (Cocoa)Better9 months314ExcellentPoor1
    Cedar MulchBest6 months252FairPoor2


    About the Author

    Brent Booker, also known the “Indiana Jones of Mulching”, is the proud father of two blower trucks and crews in Raleigh (and the proud owner of two beautiful children). He can be contacted at: brent at atlantic-mulch.com.

  • Mulch Basics

    With spring upon us we are all looking forward to getting outside to escape “cabin fever”.  If you are like me, you are filled with the excitement of what spring means for your landscape.  A renaissance to the year long growing season has us making lists of what has to be done for our plants to have an optimum growing environment.

    Often found at the top of the list is plant bed cleanup followed with a hearty application of mulch.  Benefits of mulch vary depending on the type of mulch (organic or inorganic) and how it is applied.

    Types of Mulch

    Organic Mulch

    Organic Mulch is the most common mulch purchased and has more overall benefit for the entire landscape.   Hardwood bark and pine bark mulch have been around for several decades.  Hardwood bark normally has a stringy consistency making it great for slopes and areas that are prone to erosion.  Pine bark holds its color much longer, and is better for your plants but will tend to wash away in heavy downpours. Leaf mulch also has great nutrient content as does compost.

    Since the beginning of the 2000’s colored or designer mulch  has gained in popularity.  It first began as a trend seen at your local Taco Bell or KFC with the dyed red mulch.  Now many homeowners are enjoying the color longevity of the dyed brown and black while still benefiting from the breakdown of nutrients from the organic product. All colorants used in the market today have been approved by the EPA and a few include a fungicide to prevent “yellow slime mold” and artillery fungus which can be a problem in hardwood bark.

    A cheaper natural mulch works well for walking paths and natural areas.  Natural mulch consists of ground trees and / or stumps that are left over from construction development and tree removal.

    Inorganic Mulch

    The most popular inorganic mulches are typically decorative rock such as river rock or lava rock which can come in a variety of colors.  Brick chips and rubber mulch are “inorganic” products derived from the recycling industry. Inorganic mulch is generally very expensive compared to organic mulch, but since they do not deteriorate over time, can result in a cheaper outcome to refreshing organic mulch annually.


    1. Rake/Remove any old mulch and leaves.  This will also help to remove insect eggs, fungal spores and soil-disease organisms.
    2. Next, saturate the area where mulch is being applied (watering thoroughly the areas where perennials are located).
    3. Place mulch in piles around the garden bed.
    4. Rake the mulch evenly leaving it 2-3″ thick (1-3″ for perennials). Ensure mulch is not applied within 3-4″ of shrub stems and tree trunks or within 1″ of perennial stems.

    Mulch can be purchased in bags (garden centers), in bulk (landscape supply stores), or installed by a blower truck which is more expensive but provides an even application and saves material, time and labor.

    Benefits of Mulching

    Mulch’s biggest benefit is its ability to retain moisture and decrease water use by up to 25% which also keeps the roots cool as temperatures soar.  Organic mulch breaks down as it decays into rich humus creating a nutrient rich garden.  Mulch also provides erosion control by adhering to itself and preventing rain from washing it away.    Mulch’s thick layer of organic matter also provides weed suppression.  Lastly, mulch is aesthetically pleasing in that it gives great bed definition and curb appeal.


    About the Author

    Brent Booker, also known the “Indiana Jones of Mulching”, is the proud father of two blower trucks and crews in Raleigh (and the proud owner of two beautiful children). He can be contacted at: brent at atlantic-mulch.com.

  • Pine Straw Bans

    Flip through this info-slider for details and links on the pine straw ban in your city.

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    Below are a few tips for dealing with the Raleigh, Durham and Cary pine straw bans:

    To save on some of disposal cost of straw, consider relocating the pine straw into another area away from the building such as a natural area or exterior bed.  This approach saves hauling and disposal fees, and considering that much of the straw may not be that old, can serve to refresh certain other areas of your landscape.


    The cheapest alternative to pine straw.  There are a wide range of mulches available and each provides its own qualities.  For this article, we will look the most common and economically feasible.

    Economy Mulch

    Wood chips or ground land clearing debris.  This product is not as visually appealing as other mulches as it tends not to hold its natural color very long and will break down more slowly than others.  It will help with moisture retention and erosion control.

    Natural Bark Mulch

    Typically hardwood or pine bark.  This product is mostly pure bark and is great for organic value and visual appeal.  The hardwood is a little better for erosion control as it binds together with its fibrous consistency.  Pine bark will hold its natural color a little longer and breakdown a little slower. These mulches need to be replenished yearly for visual appearance and mulch depths due to decomposition.

    Designer/colored Mulches

    In brown, black, or red —  these products are dyed with an EPA approved colorant for lasting visual appeal.  This recycled pallet product should last almost two years before replenishment.  This mulch is good for erosion control, and visual appearance while providing a slow organic breakdown.  Other colored mulches are available and could be made of wood chips, hardwood, or land clearing material.  The moisture content in these latter materials don’t allow for deep absorption of dye as compared to the dry pallets, but they still provide a longer color window.  Colored mulches cost slightly more up front, but can be significantly cheaper when the materials and labor costs are divided over the life of the product.

    A final alternative would be river rock or brick chips. This product is great for erosion control and visual appearance but has little to no organic value. Initial cost is extremely high but very little maintenance and replenishment is required for years to come.