Mulch police

By June 1, 2019 No Comments

Sometimes strata council members can make your life very difficult. Just as you think your landscape maintenance program is on auto-pilot, things fall apart. One such case involves mulch.

The setting

Imagine a regular strata site with decent soil. Now, the landscape president decides to install a thin layer of reddish mulch in all edges, mainly by sidewalks. It sounds OK but there are problems with it.

One, the colour doesn’t match the dark site soil and, two, the layer is very thin and barely covers the edges. Now, how do we maintain the site without disturbing the mulch?

Freak out

I didn’t even know about the new mulch install until I substituted for our regular foreman. We did our regular clean-up blow until the strata president tracked me down and started fuming. Something about blowing too aggressively and not owning brooms. I was confused at first and then I clued in. And I knew that one day I would strike back with a blog post.


Foul language and complaints shouldn’t be directed straight at the field workers. Everything should go through the strata management company. And yet, as a supervisor, I had to take the verbal abuse and calmly reply to a man who made a mistake with mulch.

Too thin

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott informs us that a thin layer of mulch does nothing for weed suppression. If anything, a thin layer of mulch encourages weed growth by conserving moisture and allowing enough light to reach the weeds. You can either install several inches of mulch or not do it at all. As it is, you’re making it nice and cozy for weeds to grow.

Colour mismatch

Since only the edges got a sprinkle of red mulch, there is noticeable colour mismatch which I find annoying. But again, the strata member is in charge and he did the work himself.


The thin application of red mulch makes maintenance work extremely difficult. For example, there are Spirea japonica shrubs by the sidewalk and they have to be sheared to eliminate sidewalk obstruction. Now, before any shearing happens we have to put tarps down otherwise any debris removal would also risk removing more red mulch. This would inevitably expose the workers to the strata member’s colourful vocabulary.

The fall was an absolute nightmare. Normally backpack blowers would blow out leaves from the building and onto the curb lawns but not here. Here there was great risk of removing the eleven red chips remaining by the strata member’s sidewalk. (I’m kidding.) We literally had to rake out the leaves around his unit. Otherwise he’d bury us in expletives.


  1. Strata members can make your life difficult.
  2. Verbal abuse isn’t OK.
  3. Put down several inches of mulch or don’t do it at all.
  4. Thin layers of mulch actually encourage weed growth.

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