Mulching is a gardening process, whereby a range of materials are used in order to cover the surface of soil. Examples of common materials which are used during mulching include bark, chippings, leaf mould, thoroughly-rotted farmyard manure and crushed shells.
Because mulching provides a multitude of benefits, it is implemented in order to give soil vital nutrients, while also creating a barrier that traps moisture and deters the growth of weeds.
In addition, mulching may assist with the insulation of plant roots, so as to shield them from the destructive effects of winter chills. Some gardeners utilize mulching in order to adorn the tops of pots.
Most competent and experienced gardeners believe in the power of mulching, and add mulching processes to their yearly planting schedules. They may stagger mulching processes, depending on which types of plant life they are nurturing.
Optimal Mulching Times
Mulching of trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials is typically carried out in the fall season. At this point, mulch should be spread in a circular pattern around newly-planted trees, shrubs or herbaceous perennials.
By early winter, some types of plants, which are classified as tender and delicate in nature, should get a thicker layer of mulch that assists with root protection and shields the crowns of plants from harmful frost.
When mulching borders and beds, do the process in late winter or early spring; in this manner, you’ll trap wetness from inclement weather, thereby ensuring that beds and borders don’t dry out as rapidly when summer arrives.
Understanding the Mulching Process
Prior to mulching, it’s important to ensure that the selected area is cleared of weeds, and that the soil is damp. Soil may need to be watered in order to create the right environment for mulching. Since it’s hard to water soil when mulch is in place, doing so beforehand will be beneficial.
Most gardeners fill wheelbarrows with preferred mulch materials, and then spread the materials in two-inch layers atop the soil. Usually, a spade is used to apply the mulch layer. It’s best to leave a small gap surrounding the stems of plants which are being mulched. In order to even out the mulch layer, use a rake, smoothing the mulch until it is evenly distributed.
Mulching Materials Guideline
Many different materials may be utilized for mulching purposes. In general, organic materials are preferable. These types of materials may also function as composting systems. Some gardeners use grass clipping as mulch, while other rely on leaves, hay, straw, kitchen scraps, tree bark, sawdust or woodchips. In addition, certain gardeners may choose to use newsprint, cardboard or animal droppings (such as manure) in order to mulch their border, beds, trees and shrubs.
The benefit of choosing wholly organic mulching materials is that they will break down over time. Therefore, they are more eco-friendly and temporary. However, the rate at which organic mulching materials decompose may impact their effectiveness. It’s important to consider climate and typical weather conditions before choosing the perfect organic mulching material. Rough climates may require stronger, hardier organic mulching materials, whereas milder locales may require less sturdiness.
Commercial Mulching Products are Available
Those who are unsure as to which mulching materials are most appropriate may want to consider buying commercial mulching products. These are usually organic and quite affordable. Sold in large bags, commercial mulching materials maybe combinations of appropriate materials or they may consist of only one ingredient, such as deciduous leaves or grass clippings. Instructions for usage may be included on each bag. Some gardening supply companies will provide home delivery of mulching products, and others may offer to apply mulching for a set rate.