What Is Mulch?
To put it plainly, mulch is a protective barrier. Anything that covers the soil and protects it could be determined as mulch. The most common mulches are bark and stone, however alternatives include straw and compost. Mulches can be considered to be anything and everything which positively influence the garden surface, through either their function or aesthetics.
Why Use Mulch?
Mulch has many benefits, but the main reason people use it is to boost the look of their gardens and put the finishing touch on their landscaping. Additional benefits include helping plants maintain a more even soil temperature, slow evaporation rates during hot summer days, and prevent weed growth to reduce garden maintenance.
What Makes A Good Mulch?
- Quality of the mix
- Sizing and shape of the bark
- Should be plastic free and contaminant free
- Should contain no pesticide or herbicide residue as this can leach into your soil
- Lastly, a great mulch will contain a range of cambium bark and stringy bark. This allows the particles to bind together to better retain moisture and suppress weeds. Note that for steep, sloping ground - don’t choose a bark chip or nugget as it will be more likely to roll off.
When to mulch your garden
- It is never too late to put mulch on the garden. If the ground is dry, remember to water first before putting the mulch down
- The ideal time to apply organic mulch to the soil is in spring and in autumn.
- If you live in an area that suffers from severe winter conditions, you may want to mulch in autumn to protect your plants from damaging winds or frost.
- Re-apply it throughout the year if it starts to become too thin to keep the soil moist.
Where to apply mulch?
- Put mulch around any plants that will suffer during dry weather. Established shrubs may only seem to suffer during exceptionally dry years but they need regular mulching too
- Yearly mulching will mean they suffer less stress from competition for water and food because there will be fewer weeds and water will remain in the soil for longer.
How to mulch?
- Spread mulch around plants taking care not to heap it up close to the stems. You don’t want to trap moisture against the stem of plants and cause them to rot.
- The recommended depth for mulch is about 10cm deep. Not enough and it will spread away over time and too much will cut of the air circulation to the plants.