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5 Must Do Rules For Mulching
Using mulch in your garden comes with a variety of advantages: keeping weeds at bay, preventing water evaporation,
protecting your plants’ roots from pests, reducing competition between different species of plants,
reducing extreme soil temperatures and ensuring a pleasant aspect of garden beds.
On the other hand, mulching can come with some downsides, too, as this technique tends to encourage shallow
roots and to attract bugs and all sorts of soil organisms. The garden experts at Tree Essence have prepared
for you the best 5 rules for mulching, so you use this gardening technique to your benefit.
When to apply mulch
We recommend you to apply mulch in the late winter or early spring. Do not apply mulch when the soil is frozen
and make sure to soak the area and feed your plants before applying the protective layer.
If you choose to apply mulch in the spring, wait until the soil has warmed up enough, as mulching cool wet
soil can cause seeds to decay. Wait until the winter comes to apply mulch again, because rodents who haven’t
found a place to nest yet may use the mulch in your garden as a shelter.
What type of mulch to use
There are two major types of mulch: organic and inorganic.
Organic mulch includes bark chips, sawdust, leaves, manure, peat, grass cuttings, vegetable waste, and straw.
The main advantage of organic mulch is that it breaks down, you don’t need to eliminate it later and it eventually
transforms into fertilizer.
Inorganic mulch consists of glass, stones, pebbles, plastic, and polyethylene sheeting. By using these recycled
materials, you will also discourage weeds from emerging out of the organic mulch layer.
The right choice depends on the plants that grow in your garden and on your budget. Organic mulch integrates
into the soil and it requires constant renewal, while inorganic mulch may need to be removed and replaced
only the next season. With help from an expert, you can learn how to mulch and choose the type that best
suits your garden’s needs. For example, seasonal vegetables go better with inorganic black plastic.
Using safe mulch
Some perils that mulch of uncontrolled origin can bring to your garden are weed seeds, pests, pesticide traces,
and bugs (organic mulches are usually the culprits in case of bug infestation). It is recommended to purchase
mulch from waste management companies, as these products are treated at high temperatures, unlike homemade
compost. Hay, for instance, needs to be treated at a high temperature in order to kill weed seeds.
Another aspect you need to consider is storage. Organic mulch can attract termites which will eventually damage
the timber used to build your house.
Moreover, make sure the mulch you use is pet-friendly. Certain types of mulch can be harmful to animals
How to apply mulch
It is generally recommended to apply 75-100 mm of mulch, in order to ensure moisture retention and efficient
weed suppression. Do not apply mulch directly around your trees and shrubs, because the decomposition process
of organic mulch can lead to collar rot and kill the plant. Live green mulch is not recommended, because
the decomposition process extracts too much nitrogen from the soil.
Avoid thick layers because it prevents plants from getting enough water and oxygen. Too much decomposing mulch
will affect soil pH and eventually have a negative impact on your plants.
Before applying mulch, make sure all weeds have been removed.
What kind of mulch to avoid in hot and arid areas
You should never apply black mulch around your trees when the weather is hot because it increases soil temperature
and it causes damage to the plant.
Any gardening enthusiast can learn with little effort how to mulch and acquire the most important rules for
mulching that will keep his or her plants safe and healthy.