April 16, 2017
Now is the time your annuals are in and new gardens and outdoor spaces are designed and installed, so your beds need to be cleaned and mulched. Mulching not only protects your garden and insulates your soil, but it is aesthetically pleasing.
Doing your own maintenance and clean up may seem scary, but it is not as difficult as it seems. Mulching can be beneficial to the health and size of your plants and can be very rewarding if done properly. To help our DIY customers, we have laid out the basics of mulching. It’ll be as easy as 1, 2, 3!
What is Mulch?
Mulch is made up of materials that cover your soil after planting. Some examples include bark, twigs, leaves, wood chips, grass clippings, pine needles, newspaper, cardboard, compost, and manure. It helps reduce run-off, keep down weeds, and creates a clean complete look to your garden appeal. There are different types of mulch for varieties of looks, as well as types to match your plant or tree’s needs.
Types of Mulch
There are two types of mulches you can use: organic and inorganic. Organic mulch consists of recycled plant parts. It is best to choose organic mulches made from locally grown plants. Inorganic mulch is synthetic materials, stone, weed fabrics, plastic, or rubber mulch. This mulch is used to warm up soil prior to planting, sterilize a plot, or for adding style to your garden.
Organic mulch is the recommended option for your plant beds and trees because of the added benefits. Natural and organic mulches decay over time, adding nutrients to the soil, making them a better alternative than synthetics. Yard waste is an easy and cost effective option and it helps to solve the urban waste disposal issue. 20 % of soil waste in landfills is yard waste! Wow!
Mulch that we carry: Bucks Country Gardens Mulch
Here’s a neat fact – You can mulch with wood chips from a tree that was just ground up! You want to make sure not to do this right away though. Fresh woods and chips need to age about 6 months before you use them. The reason? Soil microbes that start breaking down fresh chips will rob the soil of nitrogen and stunt your plants.
Benefits of Mulch
1. It keeps down weeds. This is great because you don’t want your garden overrun by those pesky fellas.
2. It cools the soil and reduces the evaporation rate from the soil. This conserves soil moisture, which increases the available amount of water to plants and soil biology (and cuts down your water bill!).
3. It controls run-off from heavy rain and reduces erosion.
4. It puts the “finishing touch” on garden planting, like the wrapping on a gift.
5. It breaks down over time, which adds organic matter (nutrients and microorganisms) to the soil as it decomposes. Nothing does a better job of improving soil than organic matter (especially from your area). The better your soil, the better your plants.
The Best Time to Mulch
We recommend that you mulch primarily in the spring and fall. In the spring, you should mulch new plants after planting them. Also, in the late Fall, after a hard freeze you should mulch plants that may not be cold hardy in your area to protect them from a cold winter. But, that being said, you should mulch any time you really need to. Whenever you plant trees, you should mulch them in order to save water and increase the health of the trees.
How to Mulch
1. Gather tools and mulch. The amount of mulch varies with how big of an area you are covering and the size of the plants or trees. For help with calculating use a mulch calculator!
2. Always weed before you mulch!
3. Add a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant or tree (depending on the size of the particles). This will prevent weeds from growing while still allowing water to reach the soil and giving plants enough room to breath. Mulch should not be excessively piled on.
4. Keep the mulch 1-2 inches away from the stem to allow for breathing room. For trees – 12-24 inches away from the tree trunk – spread out layer to dripline. Mulch and the water it stores, can contribute to fungi growth. Mulch should not come in contact with the tree trunk. Root flare at the base of the trunk should be visible.
5. Maintain a layer of mulch year round.
Remember! Over mulching can lower the oxygen levels, promote fungal and bacterial diseases, and give little chewing critters a safe-space to dig into, which can lead to nibbled roots or plant stems.
As always – if you have any questions or concerns regarding mulch please give us a call. Now get out there and start mulching!
Heather Fesmire | Digital Marketing Assistant