There are many types of mulch that you can use in your garden and just as many reasons to use it.
Most people like the way mulch looks in flower beds and around their small trees but the reason it is used has much more to do with garden maintenance then just its decorative appeal.
Here are a few reasons you may want to use mulch.
To reduce the amount of water you apply to your plants.
Mulch will reduce the drying of your soil and is a great way to give new bushes and trees the start they need.
To reduce the weeds in your garden.
Mulch can almost eliminate the need for pulling weeds if it is applied thick enough.
To create paths between your plants in your vegetable garden.
Mulch in a vegetable garden is a great way to reduce your watering, weeds and if used between your rows it provides a path so you don’t end up with mud covered shoes every time you want to harvest your fresh vegetables.
To insulate your plants from frost in the winter and root burn in the summer.
A thick layer of mulch can be used to insulate your plants roots during harsh seasonal conditions. Weather your plants are new or mature a thick layer can be placed over bulbs and around small plants once they are dormant to reduce the problems of frost burns. Some gardeners even like to cutback their roses and bury them in mulch during winter to protect them from wind burn. In the hot summer mulch will help reduce water needs and will also provide insulation to reduce root temperatures.
Organic materials are usually the best mulch because once they break down they will provide nutrients for your garden soil. Reducing the amount of chemical fertilizer in your garden is both economical and health conscious. Some materials barks or grasses may not be suited for use around your specific plants. When the material breaks down it could introduce toxins or increase the acidity of the soil. Never use sawdust, chips or other parts of construction materials. Wood used in home building may contain Toxic preservatives as are found in pressure treated wood or Glues that are found in OSB Plywood and other structural products.
Inorganic materials won’t brake down as quickly over time and are good for eradicating weeds. Black Plastic and Garden fabric can be applied along paths to stop weeds and grasses from growing. Crushed stone is also an easy way to reduce weeds, increase drainage and will not require yearly replacement like wood chips. In areas where Termites are high risk it is important to reduce both watering and organic materials around the skirt of your home. A two or three foot border of organic grasses and small plants that don’t require a lot of water along with a top layer of plastic and stone will give you a beautiful landscape that reduces termite attraction to your house.
How to apply Mulch.
Applying your mulch will depend on the material you pick to use but there are some simple rules you can follow.
When applying around trees and bushes give a distance of 2 to 3 inches from the stem or trunk of the plant to reduce damage from abrasion and rot.
Apply the mulch in a uniform thickness of approximately 2-3 inches.
When using Garden Fabric or Plastic under your top mulch cut back and do not cover the plants stem / trunk or the roots below the foliage of the plant. This will allow the plants roots to breath and absorb water. You should surround the remaining area with wood chips or stone.
Mulch is something that will make your garden look great and grow healthier. Depending on your needs you can purchase it at your garden center by the bag or order a few yards delivered by truck which is much cheaper.
Mulching should be part of your overall landscape design and to get ideas you should take notice of not only your neighbors yards but commercial properties which may use different methods.
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