By Tammy Sons
Mulching if done properly can have many benefits on the garden. It is not a very technical thing and you can easily apply mulch in your garden by yourself. Having said that, it is essential to follow the right technique and mulch accordingly to get best results.
Mulching refers to the method of covering the soil surface with organic or inorganic mulch to protect it from damage. Some people also use living mulches or groundcover plants to protect the soil.
Types of Mulches-
There are many types of mulches that can be used in the garden. Some of the common organic mulches include woodchips, straw, bark, well rotted manure, crushed cobs, grass clippings, peat moss, cardboard or newspaper mulch, etc. All these mulches if used appropriately can enhance the appearance of the garden bed. Apart from organic mulches, rubber mulch, plastic mulch, gravel, crushed CDs and crushed shells are also used extensively in the gardens. There are many decorative mulches available in the market that can be used for ornamental purposes.
When to Mulch-
The best time to mulch the garden beds is in late autumn season and early spring. Late autumn mulching protects the soil during harsh winter season. Early spring mulching protects it during the blooming season and summer.
How to Mulch-
It is important to make sure that the site is clear of unwanted weeds before applying mulch. Cultivate the soil to ensure that the weeds are destroyed. Apply mulch and spread around the plant so that the soil around stem and roots is protected. Ideally, up to 2 inches thick layer of mulch should be applied so that it is easy for water and air to penetrate the soil. After applying mulch, you can rake the surface to get a perfect layered finish.
Benefits of mulching-
- The flower beds and borders tend to dry out on hot summer days and mulch helps to retain the moisture in soil for longer period of time.
- Mulch also helps in preventing nasty weeds from appearing in the flower beds.
- Winter mulch protects the roots and stem of plants from frost damage during severe winters.
- Mulching helps in preventing soil erosion as the top layer of soil tends to get washed away during wet and rainy season.
- Mulches also improve the soil texture.
- Many people apply mulch to get a decorative finish. Good textured mulch can really improve the landscape and make it look neat.
Once you have applied mulch, it is important to ensure that no harm is caused to the plants. Do not apply it too close to the stem as some plants and trees can get damaged. Direct contact of mulch with the stem can cause it to soften making it vulnerable to diseases. Also, water the plants in ample quantity so that it reaches the roots easily. If the plant is under-watered then the moisture will not be able to reach the soil beneath. Rotted and old mulch should be replaced with a fresh layer as build up mulch can have a hard layer which makes it difficult for the water to penetrate.