EQUIPMENT OPTIONS: Mulch spreaders

Take a look at some of the latest models of mulch spreaders available, and brush up on mulching basics. For more information, use the circle numbers provided at the end of each product description.

Who: FINN Corp.

What: Model 605 Bark Blower

Description: The Model 605 is a 5-cubic-yard capacity bark blower on an integral trailer that can be towed with a ¾- or full-ton truck. It is powered by a 68-hp Kubota engine connected to an air pump that can deliver airflow of 820 cubic feet per minute at a pressure of 12 psi. The unit is comparable to the larger truck-mounted versions of the FINN product line and will convey the toughest materials the same distances. It is equipped with a 4-inch by 150-foot capacity hose reel.
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Who: Goossen

What: Straw Blower

Description: Goossen's self-feeding straw blower handles 1 to 2 bales per minute and will cover approximately one acre per hour. It is equipped with a 6-inch by 30-foot wear-resistant discharge hose. Choose from 13-, 16- or 18-hp gas powered or PTO driven.
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Who: Millcreek Mfg.

What: Mulch Tender

Description: The Mulch Tender carries up to 10.2 cubic yards of mulch to residential and commercial job sites, then automatically dispenses mulch into wheelbarrows. One man can load a wheelbarrow in 10 seconds by operating a simple on/off switch. At some commercial job sites, the Mulch Tender can also propel mulch directly onto planting beds through its side discharge for applications such as traffic islands, divider strips and mulched areas adjacent to parking lots.
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Who: Reinco Inc.

What: TM-35 Power Mulcher

Description: Fitted with an optional discharge hose, the TM-35 Power Mulcher will reach sites where equipment access may be limited. It also offers suction capability for applications of other landscape materials. Reinco manufactures five models of mulchers to suit contractor requirements.
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Who: Shred-Vac Systems

What: Model SVC-9

Description: A unique all-in-one collector, shredder and spreader, the SVC-9 can vacuum and manually or mechanically load, shred and apply environmental materials for a multitude of erosion control, landscaping and revegetation applications. It features a quite, powerful Cummins 3.9 diesel engine and blows hard-to-spread mulches like green waste, rice and pine straw and other large-particle materials up to 50 feet away using the 360-degree blowing chute.
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Who: TGMI, Inc.

What: Tailgate Mulcher

Description: The Tailgate Mulcher will blow 2 bales of straw per minute, or 1 to 1.5 acres an hour. It features flail beater chains that break the straw into 2- to 4-inch fibers that produce a shade cover for seed to germinate. The mulcher is belt-driven, which eliminates vibration and coupling failure. The Cannon discharge allows you to blow straw in all directions while feeding straw into the hopper. It is available skid or trailer mounted.
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Before applying mulch, you should prepare the soil. Use the following tips to ensure you prepare soil properly.

  • Remove the weeds.

  • Moisten any dry soil.

  • Aerify compacted soil.

  • Remove old mulch or incorporate it into soil to prevent build up or layers that are too thick.

  • Extend the mulched area beyond the drip line of trees, because tree roots extend well beyond the drip line.

  • Apply pre-emergent herbicides and fertilizers before spreading mulch.

  • If applying rock-sized mulches around woody plants, be careful to avoid damaging their stem and trunk tissue.

  • To reduce the amount of mulch you'll need, use a weed-control mat beneath the mulch. It will also dramatically reduce the decomposition rate of organic mulches. However, don't use weed-control mats with self-rooting ground covers, such as ajuga, ivy, vinca, etc.

  • Apply most mulches 3 to 4 inches deep. Coarser-textured materials may be used in thicker layers. Finer-textured mulches, such as peat or sawdust, should be used in thinner layers.

  • After the mulch settles, it should be 3 to 4 inches deep around woody plants and 2 to 3 inches deep around herbaceous perennials. Use only a light mulch over evergreen herbaceous perennials in winter, and pull it back in spring to allow soil warming.

  • Mulch sandy soils deeper than heavy or wet soils.

  • To maintain the appearance of compacted fibrous wood mulches, rake them. Periodically, you'll need to replace old mulch with new.

Source: Grounds Maintenance, “Mulch: Is it always beneficial?” February 1989.


Important characteristics for selecting mulch:

  • Consistent color and texture.
  • Compaction resistance.
  • Wind and water erosion resistance.
  • Fire resistance.
  • Slow rate of decomposition.
  • Ability to reduce weed growth.
  • Non-toxicity to plants.

Source: Grounds Maintenance, “Landscape mulching,” March 1991.


Mulch actually improves water infiltration into the soil. Raindrops falling on bare soil not only cause erosion, but also contribute to soil surface compaction. Mulch reduces or eliminates erosion and cushions the raindrops' impact, allowing water and plant roots to penetrate to a deeper depth.

Source: Grounds Maintenance, “Landscape mulching,” March 1991.


Mulching for weed control allows you to select from a wide range of materials, which generally fall into three categories:

  • Organic comes from living organisms and consists entirely of plant or animal matter — straw, leaves, sawdust, grass clippings, corn cobs, pine needles, peat and bark products.

  • Inorganic/mineral matter includes materials not arising from normal growth or products of organic life — sand, pea gravel, crushed brick, stones, granite chips and rocks.

  • Inorganic films/manufactured materials are thin coverings, generally flexible — woven and nonwoven polypropylene films (geotextiles, also called weed barriers and landscape fabrics), paper, metal foil, glasswool, cellophane, urethane foam, rockwool, fiberglass and polyethylene plastic films.

Source: Grounds Maintenance, “Mulching for weed control,” February 1989.

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