Mulch 101: Mulching Your Soil for a Healthy Garden explains how to mulch your soil for a healthy garden

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Mulch is a term that refers to any substance that is used to Cover any exposed soil in a natural setting. Yet, mulching appropriately — that is, in a way that is both sustainable and beneficial to the plants in your garden — can be challenging.

Mulches, unlike soil amendments, should not be mixed into the soil. Instead, cover the soil with a layer of mulch. Mulch may be used to control soil temperature, maintain moisture, and keep weeds at bay. Mulch can also help to enhance soil over time a tilth as well as fertility. Some materials will perform better than others at some of these duties. That’s why we created our Mulching 101 guide.

Mulching Products that Work

Organic materials, not in the, make the greatest mulches It makes sense to be USDA-certified It’s also a good idea to use the phrase “free of synthetic chemicals.”.

Organic mulches are biodegradable, plant-based products that break down and add nutrients to the soil. Almost any organic material, including, can be utilised a compost pile, bark, and wood chips, to name a few a bunch of leavesSeed hulls, grass clippings, nut shells, newspaper, cardboard, or straw are some of the materials that can be used. Nevertheless each and every material will perform a bit differently and give your landscape a unique appearance.

Covering for the ground

Ground cover plants, particularly nitrogen-fixing species like clover, are sometimes referred to as “living mulches.”. They are beneficial for preventing erosion and improving soil tilth in overwintering food crops. Be careful to choose a groundcover that is indigenous to your area.

The following are a few excellent ground cover options:

Composting is a term used to describe the process of

Compost, which is also referred to as a feeding mulch because of its high nutritional content, is frequently used as a mulch in annual beds and freshly planted regions where gritty wood chips might harm sensitive young stems.

Compost promotes the growth of soil fauna. Compost, on the other hand, fosters the growth of weeds. Weeds growing in compost mulch are simple to pluck because to their friable nature.

Chips of wood

Wood chips are, without a doubt, the ideal landscape mulch.

Inside a A total of 15 materials were studiedWood chips were shown to be the most effective in retaining moisture, regulating soil temperature, and suppressing weeds. They also have been discovered to instigate Mycorrhizal fungi are fungi that have a mycorrhizal relationship as well as disease-fighting microorganisms. It’s important to note that wood chips are not the same as Mulch made of bark, which is less helpful and has distinct qualities.

wood chips for mulch
Although beautiful bark dust is a popular mulch, wood chips like the ones seen above are far better for your soil. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock

Mulch Materials are of poor quality

Several materials offered as mulch, such as “beauty bark,” are ineffective for that function. While gardeners may opt to employ these materials in certain situations and locales, they are not the ideal choice for most attractive landscapes.

Materials that are synthesized

Landscape fabric (also known as geotextile) and black plastic are often utilized, however they are ineffective for the majority of the activities that mulch is intended to do. These materials will help to warm the soil, but they will not protect it from temperature changes. They can increase rainwater runoff while also trapping moisture in wet soils.

Weed control that is permanent is a fabrication. While synthetic mulches are routinely used under more beautiful materials in low-maintenance gardens, these materials will ultimately degrade. They do not, however, offer any nutrients to the soil, unlike organic mulch. Instead, the fragments must be dug out and discarded, negating much of its use as a low-maintenance material. Polymers and cloth can be used for a variety of purposes solarization of the soil and for use in vegetable gardens where they may be simply taken out at the end of the growing season.

Gravel and rock are two different types of materials

Even though inorganic mulches like as gravel and rock are nonbiodegradable natural materials, they must be replaced every few years.

They’re mostly employed as an in Zen gardens and arid xeriscapes a grass substitute. In planted gardens, however, they are less effective.

Mulching Instructions

A thick layer of mulch can be used to suffocate weeds. In a planted bed, however, you should lay mulch 3-4 inches deep across the entire area well-watered soil.

You don’t have to remove existing mulch from a planting bed; simply layer new material on top of old mulch to maintain the required total thickness. There’s no need to add extra mulch if your previous mulch is still 3-4 inches thick.

Mulch should be kept away from plant stems. Mulch piled on a tree or shrub’s trunk can cause the stem to rot.

When Should You Mulch?

Mulch once or twice a year, once in the spring and once in the autumn. Mulch immediately the soil has thawed in the spring, preferably before weeds have a chance to develop. Mulch over soil that is either completely dry or flooded.

Mulch the area In the fall, additional plantings are made. Let plants to fall dormant before mulching following the first frost in locations where the ground remains frozen all winter. Mulch early to minimize soil freezing in locations where frost is uncommon or sporadic.

The original version of this story was published on September 18, 2019.

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