Mulch can be a great addition to your Northeast Ohio commercial property. A fresh layer of mulch gives it that polish and professional edge. 

In fact, positive and powerful aesthetics aren’t the only boost mulch provides. 

Mulch packs a powerful punch of additional benefits for your property. It helps your soil retain moisture, suppresses weed growth in your landscape beds, acts as a great insulator to keep soil temperatures consistent, and it even helps prevent soil compaction by breaking down and adding more nutrients to the soil over time. 

All of these benefits can help prevent root compaction of your plants, improve your soil’s composition, and even limit lawn mower and string trimmer damage by providing a barrier. 

Like any organic material, shredded hardwood mulch has a shelf life on your commercial property. The sun exposure wears it down, as well as rain, erosion, and decomposition. As such, replenishing your mulch on an annual basis is important to maintaining these benefits and keeping your facility looking trimmed, tidy, and taken care of. 

Mulch is also a combustible material, which can be ignited by neglect. 

Let’s talk about mulch fire and how you can avoid mulch spontaneous combustion and keep up an elevated level of safety on your Northeast Ohio commercial site.

Everything You Need to Know About Mulch Fires

Mulch is a great addition to your commercial facility. 

While mulch can be incredibly effective in an aesthetic and natural way on your Northeast Ohio properly when applied correctly, some issues can occur that can lead to mulch smoking and mulch fires. 

landscape crew cleans up mulch in raised bed

Pay attention to these warning signs and issues to ensure safety on your site and to ensure you get the best of what mulch offers.

Can Mulch Catch Fire?

Is mulch flammable? Mulch is actually a combustible material. 

This means it can be easily ignited by improperly discarded smoking materials or by spontaneously combusting. Unfortunately, hundreds of small and large fires are started this way every year. 

landscape with mulch and rock near plantings

The biggest risk to you as a property manager is that what starts as a small outdoor mulch fire can quickly spread to buildings. A mulch fire can be well underway before someone notices or is alerted by smoke alarms or a sprinkler systems activating.

How Mulch Fires Start

Many mulch fires start by mulch smoking. The smoldering mulch will tunnel under the surface before it breaks out into an open flame. 

One problem that leads to this is mulch that is piled too deeply – more than a few inches. This can build up heat and cause mulch spontaneous combustion. 

Maintenance crew dumps wheelbarrow of mulch

Other factors, such as below-average rainfall, dry conditions, warm temperatures, and high winds, can increase the risk of mulch fires.

While these conditions escalate mulch fire occurrence, disposing cigarettes irresponsibly in and around mulch can cause fires to erupt.

Encourage Responsible Smoking On Your Commercial Site to Prevent Mulch Fires

Since smoking can be a big cause of a mulch fire, sharing rules about responsible smoking on your commercial site can help deter them on your property. 

First, encourage smokers to put out their cigarettes all the way every single time. They must remember to properly dispose of all smoking materials; they should not discard cigarettes in mulch or potted plants. Providing appropriate and safe receptacles for smoking material and match disposal can discourage unsafe behaviors.

How to Prevent Mulch Fires

When it comes to mulch fires, prevention is the best way to avoid these occurrences on your Northeast Ohio commercial facility. 

Read The Property Manager's Guide to Landscaping & Lawn Care 
Try these tactics to embrace elevated safety and security on your site.

Use Proper Tools When It Comes to Smoking On Your Site

Start by encouraging responsible smoking and smoking material disposal. 

Provide fire-proof receptacles in public places including entrances around your commercial property.

Water Correctly to Avoid Dry Areas

Keeping plants and mulch consistently moist with regular and proper watering can discourage mulch fire problems. 

sprinkler head waters grass

Ensuring your irrigation system is working correctly and that you’re watering at adequate intervals can do this for you. Your commercial property grounds management team can help by inspecting, auditing, repairing, and starting up and shutting down your irrigation system thoroughly.

Focus on Proper Mulch Installation

Never install mulch at a depth of more than 3 inches; this can encourage mulch fires. 

Typically, mulch is best applied at a depth of 2 to 4 inches. But this also depends on how well a property keeps up with annual mulching, which can impact how much mulch is needed from year to year. 

Landscape maintenance team installs mulch to landscape beds

Mulching on commercial properties is best done once a year for a fresh look and multiple benefits. But if your commercial landscape budget is tight, we recommend mulching every other year. Then you can perform mulch cultivation during the off years to freshen and turn your old mulch and give it new life when necessary. 

More is never better with mulch, particularly around tree trunks. Piling mulch too high around tree trunks can lead to bark decay, fungus, disease, improper root growth, and root suffocation. 

But applying less than 2 inches of mulch can be just as bad. It won't properly insulate the soil or prevent weeds, and as it breaks down it can leave bare spots. 

Mulch can cost anywhere from $70 to $75 per yard installed. This amount will cover approximately 100 square feet. This can give you an idea of how much mulch you need for proper coverage, depending on the space you need covered.

Use Less Flammable Mulch Options

Another option for preventing mulch fires is to use less flammable mulch like shredded hardwood or pine bark nuggets. 

skid steer loads up mulch

Double shredded hardwood mulch helps retain soil moisture and keeps plant roots at an even temperature. It’s the best for the soil as well because it adds great nutrients as it breaks down. This type of mulch comes in a popular brown color, but it’s also available in black.

Use Rock Beds Strategically

To protect your commercial buildings from mulch fires, add a 2- to 3-foot rock bed around your building to create a barrier between the mulch and your property. 

rock plant bed

That way, if your mulch does spontaneously combust or catch fire for some reason, this will keep you, your employees or residents, as well as your facility buildings safer.

Turfscape Can Help You With Commercial Property Mulch So You Can Avoid Mulch Fires

The best looking commercial landscapes in Northeast Ohio showcase eye-popping plant materials; full, green trees and lawns; colorful, bountiful blooms; and clean, well-designed and installed hardscapes and landscape beds that are set off beautifully with double-shredded hardwood mulch. 

Whether you manage a retail center, office park, educational facility, homeowners’ association, or health care facility, your landscape should be something you can be proud of and that projects a positive image onto your business. It should elevate your brand and create a great look and feel for anyone navigating your entrances, exits, and outdoor recreation areas. 

You certainly don’t want a mulch fire to ruin this for you or create a safety hazard or issue on your property. 

Let Turfscape help. We are experts at proper mulch installation and commercial property care, so you don’t have to worry about safety issues. We make sure to take that all into account when helping you maintain your commercial facility to ensure you receive the best care and proactively stay ahead of any issues. 

Want to learn more about our mulch services in Northeast Ohio? Get started today with a free quote. We’ll review your options together so you can feel confident and make a great choice. 
Property manager's guide to landscaping and lawn care
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