Mulching 101

Mulching is a very important way to maintain healthy and thriving plants. Mulch is commonly any material applied to the surface of your topsoil for improvement or protection. Mulch is actually a naturally occurring method. Mulch is produced in nature in vast quantities all the time with pieces of bark, fallen leaves, twigs, grass clippings, pine needles, fallen fruit and even withered flowers and blossoms.

Mulching reduces the stress of trees and plants by providing it with a stable root environment that retains more moisture and remains cooler than the surrounding topsoil and sub soil. By slowly decomposing, mulch is a great source of nutrients and improves soil structure.

Mulching also maintains a more even soil temperature between seasons such as summer and winter. By controlling your soils climate, your soil will product more healthy and fuller plant life. Mulching also prevents soil splashing, which not only stops erosion but keeps soil borne diseases from splashing on your plants.

Key Benefits of Mulching

  • Retains Moisture
  • Reduces disease
  • Reduces Weeds & controls grass
  • Prevents soil from being compacted
  • Protects plants and trees from lawnmowers and weed-eaters
  • Decorative
  • Keeps soil cool in the summer
  • Keeps soil warm in the winter

Mulch Types
There are essentially two kinds of mulch; organic and inorganic. Organic mulch and inorganic mulch both may have a place in the garden.

Organic mulch is made up of naturally occurring substances such as pieces of bark, fallen leaves, twigs, grass clippings, pine needles, fallen fruit, vegetation and even withered flowers and blossoms. Organic mulch attracts insects and slugs along with the birds and animals that eat them. Organic mulch also decomposes over time and should be replaces every several years.

Inorganic mulches such as pebbles, gravel, black plastic, rubber, and landscaping fabrics doesn’t attract pests and they do not decompose so you don’t have to replace it as often.

Simple Mulching Technique
For mulching to be most effective, mulch should be at least three inches deep and extend as far as possible from your plants and trees.Thickness of the layer of mulch is very important. If your mulch exceeds 5 inches thick it could result in gas exchange between air and soil.

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One Response to Mulching 101

  1. Erma says:

    I have done this with great success. I used whole newspapers and made sure they are overlapped. Don’t worry about wetting them though unless it is extremely windy. A couple of sheets will break down pretty quickly so I think the extra thickness is what does the trick. I used this around shrubs and then applied 5″ of wood chip for shrub beds. I left an area of 8″ x 8″ around each shrub to allow for water penetration. No weeds from underneath ever, it has now been 5 years. You will always get wind borne weed seeds sprouting in the top mulch but I didn’t even weed the seasonal grasses before I laid the mulch down. No plant can grow without light. My newsagent will give you the newspapers (yesterdays that no one bought, saves him paying to have them recycled), I collect them over a period and it gives me great quantities to use over big areas.I wouldn’t use this method in flower beds or perennial borders it would take the paper to long to breakdown. Even though the news paper is now completely broken down I’m only getting weeds in the top mulch, the seed cycle for the weeds underneath seems to have been broken. Hope this helps 🙂

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