Mulching 101

Every gardener should mulch. It is one of the simplest and most effective practices to control weeds and improve the soil, while beautifying your garden without much effort! A layer of mulch will create a “professional” looking garden! There are many different types of mulch available.

What is mulch?

Mulching is adding a layer of material, such as grass clippings, leaves, bark chips and straw, to cover the soil in a gardening bed.

Types of Mulch:

mulching in the garden bed

Photo Credit: Flickr user, t0msk

  • Leaves and Grass Clippings: Non decorative. Decomposes quickly and adds nutrients to the soil.  It’s best to use grass clippings that haven’t been sprayed with chemical weed killers and make sure there aren’t any weeds mixed in. Best for using around vegetables in the summer.
  • Bark: Decorative and long lasting. Decomposes slowly. Adds nutrients to the soil. It’s best to wait for the old bark chips to decompose fully or remove old layers. Ideal for mulching around shrubs.
  • Wood Chip: Decorative Decomposes quickly and adds nutrients to soil. Pruned woody branches can be shred to be used as  mulch. Ideal for shrubs and hedging plants.
  • Straw: Can be decorative. Decomposes slowly; can take up to two years to rot. Ideal for mulching food crops.

Why Mulch?

There are many benefits to mulching, as we briefly mentioned above. Here are more reasons to mulch:

  • Adding a thick layer of mulch is the easiest way to suppress the growth of weeds. Most weed seeds are unable to germinate through the mulch.
  • You will be helping the environment by conserving water. Mulching keeps the soil’s moisture in, so less water is required to keep plants healthy and hydrated. Plus, the roots are better able to absorb the nutrients and moisture from the ground.
  • A thick layer of mulch will protect the soil structure from the drying effects of the sun and wind. As well, mulch will keep the soil warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
  • Dry, loose mulches can attract beneficial insects to your garden, protecting your plants from pests.
  • As organic mulch rots, the soil will benefit from the added nutrients.
  • Mulching beautifies gardens.

How to Mulch

  • Organic materials is preferable over inorganic materials, such as plastic sheeting, landscape fabric or rubber mulch.
  • The best time to apply the layer of mulch is during the late spring or early summer.
  • Don’t put down new mulch until the old mulch has mostly decomposed or removed. Adding a new layer can cause the older layers to stop composting.
  • A  layer of 5-8 cm (2-3 in) is sufficient to control weeds and to protect from the sun and wind.
  • Keep the mulch away from the crowns of perennials and the stems and trunks of shrubs and trees, as it can cause fungal diseases such as crown rot.
  • Mulching isn’t just for garden beds. They can also be used in container gardening to keep the soil from drying out.

About Connor Lowry

I love flowers! I enjoy writing about them as well as gardening. Mostly I love finding new and unique flower gardening ideas I encourage you to post regularly on this blog, and send in guest blogs or ideas for new blogs as well. New and exciting blogs are always welcome I intend to post a lot of interesting facts and fun stuff about flowers, as well as info on many varieties of flowers.
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3 Responses to Mulching 101

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