Mulch is any type of material that is spread or laid over the soil as a covering. There are many benefits of mulching when it is applied correctly. To improve soil structure, use organic mulch. As the mulch decays, nutrients are added to the soil. The best time to mulch around new plantings is immediately after planting. Apply a 2” to 3” layer in areas that have not been mulched before. It is best to mulch around established plants in early spring, when plants begin to grow and before weed seeds start to germinate. If there is a good layer of existing mulch, 1/2” to 1” of new mulch is sufficient. Before applying any type of mulch, it is best to weed the area. Mulching too deep can keep soil too wet and not let oxygen into the soil. Keep mulch away from trunks of trees and shrubs as this can be habitats for rodents and also stress the tissue and lead to disease and insect problems.
Straw is best for a vegetable garden or over newly sown lawns. Straw will improve the soil as it decays.
Two to three inches of leaves provides good weed control. It is best to shred the leaves coarsely to keep them from blowing away and allow water to penetrate.
Pine bark is attractive mulch and is good for weed control. Pine needles make excellent mulch for acid-loving trees and shrubs. It is also very attractive and allows water to penetrate easily.
Shredded hardwood mulch is good at suppressing weeds. It does not wash away easily and is very attractive.
- Prevents loss of water from the soil by evaporation.
- Reduce the growth of weeds by applying a 2” to 3” layer of mulch to prevent weed germination or to smother existing weeds.
- Keeps soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter by maintaining an even soil temperature.
- Prevents soil splashing, which not only stops erosion but keeps soil-borne diseases from splashing up onto the plants.
- Prevents crusting of the soil surface by improving the absorption and movement of water into the soil.
- Prevents the trunks of trees and shrubs from damage by lawn equipment.
- Prevents soil compaction during heavy rain.
- Adds to the beauty of your landscape by providing a cover of uniform color and interesting texture to the surface.
- Adding mulch to your plants will produce additional roots in the mulch that surrounds them.
- During the spring and fall, mulch helps in keeping an even soil temperature by holding on to the heat during the day and radiating it to the soil at night.
- Winter mulching creates a barrier between the harsh cold and surface snow. It does not to keep the ground from freezing, it helps the stress that plants undergo during the cycles of soil freezing and melting.
- During the summer, mulching helps keep the soil cool by blocking the direct sunlight exposure on the surface level of the soil.