Using Mulch to Help Your Garden Thrive
Who doesn’t want a beautiful, lush, and thriving yard from spring until fall? Whether you’re hoping to increase curb appeal, create a welcoming business front, or be the envy of the neighbourhood, a vibrant garden is the perfect place to start. However, for those not gifted with a green thumb, this is easier said than done!
Fortunately, there is one simple step that sets every garden up for success. Use mulch!
Mulch is the secret to a healthy and happy garden. It enriches the soil with nutrients, retains moisture, controls weeds, insulates against temperature fluctuations, and prevents erosion. It also looks great! Furthermore, plants are stronger, healthier, and grow better with mulch.
No matter the size of your landscaping or gardening project, mulch plays a key role in beautiful and healthy gardens. At Peel Exterior Maintenance, we carry four varieties of mulch to help your yard look its best. In this article, we will overview the basics of applying mulch and dive deeper into its benefits.
When should I apply mulch?
A quick Google search will reveal that there are many opinions on when you should mulch your yard. Gardening and lawn care look different in different climates, so the best time to mulch can vary. That being said, we recommend mulching twice a year.
You should first mulch in the spring. However, mid to late spring is usually better than early in the season. Mulch cools the ground so applying it too early can disrupt the soil’s natural thawing after winter. In turn, this impacts the growth of your plants. New perennials and annuals, in particular, struggle to expand their roots in these conditions.
Your second mulch application should be in the fall. Mulch is insulating, which helps plants weather harsh winters. Furthermore, mulch protects roots and bulbs from temperature swings. That being said, mulching too late in the fall can cause problems. You should always lay the mulch before the first frost arrives.
How do I apply mulch?
Thorough and rigorous weeding is a must before laying mulch! It’s important to remove weeds down to their roots. Mulch represses weed growth but first, you need to get rid of the weeds. If you choose, you can place a weed cloth underneath the mulch to ensure a weed-free garden. Following this, dig out where you will be applying mulch. Alternatively, build a barrier with stone or wood. The idea is to contain the mulch so it won’t spill out into other areas.
Generally, the mulch should be 2-3 inches deep. It should not pile up over the base of the plant. Rather, give your plants some room to breathe.
Some kinds of mulch should be applied more thinly than others. For example, fine-textured mulch is best laid thinly. (Thin mulch layers are also used for areas with poor drainage.) Coarser mulch, such as bark chips, is applied in thick layers.
What type of mulch should I use?
Mulch made from organic materials is far better for plants. Inorganic mulch may not need to be replaced as often, but it lacks additional benefits.
Aged organic mulch has a few benefits over freshly chipped mulch. Since aged mulch is already decomposing, it doesn’t rob the soil of nitrogen. Additionally, it adds more nutrients to the soil, which aids the growth of new plants. However, aged mulch lasts half as long as its newer counterparts.
Organic mulch comes in many varieties. Hardwood, softwood, shredded leaves, and grass clippings are a few examples. Softwood mulch, like cedar, tends not to last as long as hardwood. If you choose to use grass clippings, the lawn must not have been treated with broadleaf herbicide in the past four weeks.
Why You Should Use Mulch
Nutrients. Mulch adds organic matter to the soil. In turn, this helps your plants grow and keeps your garden healthy. As the mulch continues to decompose, it infuses the soil with nutrients, fertilising the soil. Moreover, the decomposing mulch provides micro-organisms and earthworms with food. This biological activity is great for the health of growing gardens!
Moisture. Mulch retains moisture in the soil. It reduces evaporation while also improving drainage and protecting the soil from heavy rain. Mulched gardens require less watering than unmulched areas, which saves both water and time!
Weed control. Mulch makes life hard for weeds. First, mulch acts as a protective barrier, preventing airborne weeds from reaching the soil. If any weeds do take root, the mulch stunts their growth. How? Mulch blocks out the sun, meaning the new weeds won’t get enough sunlight to thrive.
Insulating. Mulch is insulating. It regulates the temperature of the soil, keeping your plants cooler in summer and warmer in winter. In fact, plants are less likely to experience frost damage because of mulch! Furthermore, mulch provides shade for delicate seedlings.
Prevents Erosion. As we have already mentioned, mulch protects the soil during periods of heavy rain. Intense rainfall erodes the soil, however, mulch breaks the fall of rainwater. This prevents soil and valuable nutrients from being washed away.
Mulch Helps Your Garden Thrive
Mulch is essential for happy, healthy, and thriving gardens. Although quite aesthetically pleasing, its benefits go beyond just appearances. First, mulch adds nutrients to the soil by way of slowly decomposing organic matter. This nurtures plant growth and attracts micro-organisms, which are important for soil health.
Secondly, mulch improves water penetration, limits evaporation, increases drainage, and helps the soil retain moisture. Additionally, it discourages weed growth! Mulch also insulates against temperature changes, protecting plants from frost damage and overheating. Lastly, it prevents soil erosion.
This spring and fall, apply organic mulch to your garden for incredible results. You can choose from one of the four high-quality mulches provided by Peel Exterior Maintenance! We carry cedar, black, red, and mocha brown mulch.