The best time to lay down mulch is in mid-to-late spring. Mulch is a great addition to the garden not only to enhance its general appearance but also to boost the health of your plants. It can make all the difference in creating a beautiful flowering garden and in growing big, tasty, juicy fruits.
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What is Mulch?
Mulch is a layer of material that you put over your existing garden soil to improve the look of your landscape. It also helps to retain and maintain moisture, keeps the weeds at bay, and keeps the soil cool for your gardens’ overall health.
The best type of mulch will depend on what plants you are mulching and what you want your landscape to look like, one size does not fit all. Be careful when you get mulch from unknown sources as they may contain weed seeds. This will defeat one of the purposes of mulching in the first place.
Mulch can be made up of a variety of materials such as:
- Bark – Bark is good for the bases of permanent trees, shrubs, and small greenery. Make sure you only utilize this type of mulch after your landscape design is decided. Removing bark can be tedious.
- Compost and manure – Compost is good for a general overall application.
- Shredded leaves – Shredded leaves are good for general overall use, and best of all, they are free!
- Newspaper – You can place wet newspapers around plants to act as a mulch.
- Grass clippings – Grass clippings are good for open areas where no shrubs are located.
- Straw – Great for promoting beautiful vegetables in your vegetable garden.
When’s The Best Time To Mulch?
The best time to mulch is in spring before summer arrives. This will help to protect your flora from overheating and help to retain moisture. Additionally, you can add mulch throughout the year to protect your garden from harsh weather and to boost your plant’s vitality.
When you lay mulch, you will need a good 2-inch layer of mulch to cover the area. This height will help to stop weeds from pushing through. However, if it’s any thicker, it can cause the soil to become too wet. It will not give any benefit to your garden, and it could cause the plant to attract disease and die.
Things To Remember When Mulching
Mulching can be a finicky job. To ensure your landscape stays in tip-top shape, you should follow these easy tips:
- Make sure you use the right mulch for the right job
- Avoid piling mulch up. It should be spread evenly
- Use the right amount, don’t use too much, and don’t be stingy
- And of course, you need to mulch at the right time during spring
Advantages Of Mulching
We already know that laying mulch down is going to protect your greenery, but what are the other advantages of mulching?
If you lay your mulch at the correct time, you are protecting your plants from extreme temperatures, sun damage, and frost damage. Sun damage can cause your plants to look sunburnt as they turn a red or brown-tinged color. When this occurs, the plant is in distress and will start to die in the sunburnt areas. Sunburn can cause problems for fruit trees. By weakening the structure of the fruits that are affected, the fruit can be compromised and more susceptible to disease and being invaded by pests because they can now burrow into the fruit more effectively.
Your garden landscape is going to be significantly improved by having a uniform layer of material placed over the existing soil.
- Mulch helps to stop new weeds growing in, but it doesn’t stop the existing ones from continuing to fester. You will need to do your weeding before you lay your mulch.
- It helps to prevent erosion and compaction of the soil.
- It provides a stable environment for your garden by boosting nutrients and giving support, especially for seedlings.
Disadvantages Of Mulching
Like all great things, there is always a negative, but there is a solution if you do your mulching correctly. Mulching puts a layer of material over the current garden, and this can make it hard for the sun to penetrate deep down. This is good when there are extreme temperatures occurring, but not so good at other times of the year, so you must ensure you don’t place it too thickly.
Weed seeds and other nasties could be hiding amongst your mulch. Try to find a source that is clear of weed seeds, such as a reputable farm. You can use a double-mulching technique to help. You will need to prepare the area and then get some wet newspaper and place it around the plants. After this is done, continue and add a nutrient-dense mulch that hopefully has little-no weed seeds.
Mulch is a perfect hiding spot for pests that like to invade gardens such as snails and slugs. To help keep the snails at bay, it might be beneficial to use a deterrent.
Deterrents can include:
- Broken up eggshells – Snails will find it difficult to maneuver around eggshells, and they will avoid the area.
- Petroleum jelly smeared around the areas that are affected the most will help as snails and slugs will find it too slippery and will give up.
- Coffee grounds are another great deterrent. These have to be the proper coffee bean grounds, not your instant coffee type. You may be able to get some from the local cafe.
Through careful planning and a sound strategy, your garden is going to love you next season when it’s time to mulch. Let your plants thrive and plan ahead by choosing where you will find your mulch, deciding when exactly you are going to lay it down in spring, and, more importantly, where. You may need to set aside a day for your gardening activities, but I’m sure it will be worth it once you see the end result and your garden starts to grow.