Water-wise organic gardeners learn quickly that there is no such thing as too much mulch. It keeps the moisture in and the weeds out. Many desert gardeners use gravel between their plantings. I prefer cedar mulch for several reasons. As it breaks down it adds acid to the soil (something much needed in my neighborhood). It does not hold heat like gravel or reflect the heat onto the house. It holds moisture better than gravel. The cedar oils are naturally insect repellent. It is easier to change out should I change plantings. The color is warmer. And, importantly, it is far less likely to kill my back. The only down side is cedar mulch's defiance of the law of conservation of mass - it somehow disappears over time. (Yes, I know my front yard is not a closed system, but it doesn't appear to be piling up at the downwind neighbors either.)
I replenish the cedar twice a year. In the spring I add a thick layer and in the late fall I add some around the more sensitive of the plantings to give them a little insulation. This weekend was spring mulching time. I spread 40 2-cubic-feet bags of western red cedar. Since each bag had to be shifted onto a cart at Home Depot, then shifted into the truck, then shifted out of the truck, then moved to its end destination, I figure I have moved a cumulative of 320 cubic feet of cedar mulch this weekend. And I am not done. I need at least 6 more bags for the front yard, and a bunch for the back yard. Spreading mulch is labor intensive and sniffle producing, but it lends a fresh clean look to the yard. Sort of like a fresh coat of paint.
Once the mulching is done I will have no more excuses to avoid starting on the rock wall.
In other garden news the lilac has started to bloom. Lilac experts say that a heavily overgrown lilac should be pruned back to its optimum over three years. Lilacs only bloom on new wood, so an overgrown lilac won't bloom very heavily. I started the 3-year pruning process last year and it looks like I will be rewarded already with lots of almost-purple flowers. In the front yard, the first green leaves of the Salvia reptens have appeared to quench my fears that they might not come back from the winter. Each year they die all the way back to the ground, so I anxiously await the first bits of green peeking through the mulch.