What is mulch?
Mulch is a protective barrier. Anything that covers the soil and protects it could be determined as mulch.
There is a few variants of mulches and are often grouped into the following
- Grass clippings
- Wood chips
- Shredded Bark
- Plastic/fabric weed mat
- River Rock
Why use a mulch?
Prevents Soil Erosion
- It keeps existing water trapped in the soil.
- It keeps rain water from washing away your soil.
- It does this by breaking the fall of the water and therefore lessening the force when the water impacts the ground.
Maintains Soil Nutrients
- When using organic mulch, it will release nutrients into the soil.
- This happens as the organic material slowly decomposes on top of the soil.
- Acts as a barrier
- Weed seeds will germinate beneath mulch, but will be unable to reach sunlight to grow.
- Absorbs water
- Covers the soil and limits evaporation.
- Retaining moisture, especially during hot, dry seasons.
- Saves you money on water bill
Keeps the soil loose
- The organic matter in mulch stops the soil packing down and creates many tiny spaces for air and water and habitat for tiny soil organisms.
- This makes it easier for plants to get food from the soil and reduces the need for regular cultivation.
Looks Nice & Tidy
- Gives your garden a finished look by filling in the empty spaces while being one of the easiest fillers to maintain.
- Mulch is easy to care for and never competes with your other plants.
Encourages Earthworms to Move In
- Using organic material for mulching can encourage earthworms to occupy your garden soil.
- Earthworms help improve soil structure and nutrient cycling.
- Earthworms burrow through your soil, digesting organic materials, creating tunnels for air and water to percolate through, and distribute their castings as rich ready fertiliser for your plants.
Raises soil temperature
- Dark coloured mulch will raise soil temperatures in Spring to enhance growth.
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 your garden?
- 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.
- Make the mulch at least 10 cm deep, pile it higher if you can because it settles over the growing season. 20cm is always better than 10 cm if you want your mulch to be really effective.