HOUSTON -

The plants in your yard are thirsty and hot this summer. But landscapers say there is a relatively cheap, do-it-yourself job that can help your lawn survive the summer.

"Mulch is an inexpensive landscaping option and there's added benefit because mulch will help retain moisture in your flower beds, which should help cut down on your water bills through the summer," said Angie Hicks, the creator of the website Angie's List.

Mulch can range from around $20 to $50 per yard. Landscaper Gregg Pulley told Local 2 the key is knowing the amount of mulch you need.

"We apply our mulch at 3 inches, which is the proper depth and 1 yard of mulch will cover 100 square feet, 3 inches deep," Pulley said. "Typically mulch lasts about nine to 12 months. It breaks down naturally, releasing nutrients down into the soil."

Buying mulch by the yard versus buying by the bag can save you money. You can save even more by using your own truck and avoiding delivery fees.

If you want it to last even longer, Pulley has a secret.

"Every month or two, a homeowner can fluff up the mulch a little bit. Just turn it over and re-release some more color, so the dyed mulch usually holds a little bit longer then a hardwood mulch or cypress or any other type of mulch," Pulley said.

Not only does mulch keep water close to the base of your plants, but it slows down the weeds. It is certainly a job you can do yourself but with Houston's triple-digit temperatures, you can always hire a landscaping company to do the heavy lifting.

"If you have a lot of flower beds, you may want to consider hiring a landscaper. Your back may really hurt come Monday!" said Hicks.

Benefits of Mulch:

· Helps retain moisture around the base of plants.

· Keeps plant roots warm.

· Allows water to seep slowly into the ground.

· Provides additional nutrients for the soil.

· Mulch is a natural weed suppressor. It will not completely rid your yard of weeds, but it is a great option if you prefer not to use pesticides.

Types of mulch:

You can choose between coarse, shredded and fine consistencies. The consistency will determine how fast the mulch decomposes. Generally, the finer the faster.

  • Brown is one of the most popular colors of dyed mulch thanks to its natural look and ability to blend in with most landscapes. It is great for mulching flower beds and around water features and patios. Average price: $33.50 per yard.
  • Black is another popular choice for dyed mulch, and it's often used to add contrast to flower beds and to make colorful flowers stand out. Average price: $33.50 per yard.
  • Red mulch is the color to use if you want your landscaping to really stand out. Average price: $33.50 per yard.
  • Gold is another popular choice for dyed mulch. Gold-tinted mulch is often referred to as "mock cypress," due to its similar appearance and consistency. Average price: $33.50 per yard.
  • Hardwood mulch is screened to create smaller particles called "fines." It has the consistency of coffee grounds and it composts quickly making it a good soil additive. Average price: $29.50 per yard.
  • Cypress mulch is shipped from Florida and comes in a blond or gold tint. It's durable mulch that is known to hold its color longer than other varieties. Average price: $46 per yard.
  • Rubber tire mulch is great for landscaping and playgrounds. It is made out of recycled tires that have been stripped of all wires and cut to ¼- or ½-inch pieces. Rubber tire mulch is low maintenance and absorbent to impact. Average price: $8.50 per bag.

Picking out color:

Some dyed mulches like red or black can be used to add contrast or make flowers and plants stand out in a landscape, but there is no real benefit to choosing one color over another.

Avoid the mulch volcano:

The biggest mistake you can make when spreading mulch is piling it high around the base of a tree. Even if you think it looks nice, be warned that it can cause serious damage. Excessive mulch can saturate the tree roots with water, which can cause rot and fungus problems, and block oxygen from reaching the roots. Keep mulch piles to 3 inches or less.