How to Mulch Your Garden

Mulch is the top gardening time-saver, no make a difference if you might be tending to flower beds or vegetable gardens. And even though mulching by itself may perhaps be a agony, it reaps many rewards: When finished adequately, mulch cuts down on the time it takes to drinking water, weed, and struggle pests. All in all, this helps make for healthier fruits, veggies, and flowers.

For a extra fruitful back garden, make absolutely sure you pick the greatest mulch for the position. Even though most mulch kinds will ward off pests and weeds, some cater to the requirements of distinct plants, trees, or other crops. In advance of you lay any ol’ mulch down, browse on to uncover the perfect form for your back garden, as perfectly as strategies and methods on how to distribute it adequately.

Unique Varieties of Mulch for Your Back garden

There are two basic types of mulch: organic and natural and inorganic. Organic mulches involve previously dwelling substance these types of as chopped leaves, straw, grass clippings, compost, wooden chips, shredded bark, sawdust, pine needles, and even paper. Inorganic mulches involve black plastic and geotextiles (landscape fabrics).

Both of those kinds of mulch discourage weeds, but organic and natural mulches also increase the soil as they decompose. Inorganic mulches never split down and enrich the soil, but that isn’t going to necessarily imply they’re not a clever option for your back garden. Circumstance in issue: Black plastic, a common kind of inorganic mulch, warms the soil and radiates heat for the duration of the evening, preserving heat-loving vegetables like eggplant and cherry tomatoes cozy and vigorous.

Here are the six most prevalent kinds of mulch to decide on amongst:

Wood Chips or Shredded Leaves

full frame view of mulch

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You can obtain luggage of ornamental wooden chips or shredded bark from a neighborhood back garden middle to mulch your flower back garden and shrub borders. For a considerably less high-priced option, phone your neighborhood tree-treatment or utility business to see if they have any more wooden chips on hand. Or if you might be genuinely arranging ahead, chip your Christmas tree instead of tossing it to the suppress.

If you have trees on your property, shredding the fallen leaves generates a nutrient-abundant mulch at no additional charge. You never will need a special machine both: a lawn mower with a bagger will obtain leaves and slice them into the perfect size for mulching.

Unfold a wooden chip or shredded leaf mulch any where on your property, but it appears to be like greatest in flower beds, shrub borders, and back garden pathways. Of study course, it truly is appropriate at dwelling in a woodland or shade back garden. Retain in thoughts that wooden chips usually are not a clever alternative for vegetable and yearly flower beds, since they will get in the way as you dig the beds every 12 months.

Grass Clippings

grass in the compost pile


Grass clippings are another conveniently offered mulch, whilst it truly is a great notion to help you save a part of the clippings to use as a natural lawn fertilizer. When you have remaining grass clippings, use them as nitrogen-abundant mulch in vegetable gardens.


wheelbarrow of compost

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Give your compost another purpose: If you have more to spare, use it as mulch. It will enrich the soil and make plants delighted, but keep in thoughts that when any kind of mulch is dry, it truly is not a hospitable location for plant roots. That suggests, you may perhaps want to reserve your compost to distribute as a skinny layer all over plants and best it with another mulch, these types of as chopped leaves. This lets the compost to stay moist and biologically active, providing optimum reward for your vegetables, fruits, or flowers.

Straw or Hay



If you might be planting a vegetable back garden, consider masking it with straw, salt hay, or weed-free of charge hay. Not only does it appear clean up and crisp, but this form of mulch retains soil humidity, stops weeds, and provides organic and natural make a difference to the soil when it breaks down. Just make absolutely sure you opt for a weed and seed-free of charge hay, and avoid piling it all over stems of vegetable or fruit tree trunks to avert slug and rodent harm.

Plastic Mulch

green pepper plant growing through a hole in black plastic mulch

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Mulching a vegetable back garden with sheets of black plastic film can do wonders. When it truly is distribute tightly in excess of a easy soil area, black plastic transmits the sun’s heat to the soil beneath, generating a microclimate about a few levels warmer than an unmulched back garden. Since the plastic film remains warm and dry, it safeguards the fruits of vining crops these types of as strawberries, melons, and cucumbers from rotting. And, of study course, the mulch stops weed development and retains soil humidity.

Infrared transmitting (IRT) plastics charge extra than typical black plastic, but they can final result in even larger yields. These plastics warm the soil as perfectly as obvious plastic, but also management weeds as correctly as black plastic. In raised bed gardens, lay down a sheet of plastic in excess of the full bed. Bury it at the edges or weigh the plastic down with rocks. Then punch holes in it with a bulb planter, and fill with plants or seeds. Given that drinking water won’t be able to permeate plastic, you won’t be able to rely on rainwater to adequately hydrate your plants. Instead, lay soaker hoses or drip hoses on the soil area prior to you set down the plastic.

Be cautious not to use mulch beneath shrubs, especially since plastic destroys the shrubs’ extended-phrase wellness. Since drinking water and air can not penetrate the plastic, roots expand pretty near to the soil area — sometimes appropriate beneath the plastic — looking for humidity and oxygen. The shallow roots undergo from lack of oxygen and humidity, and extreme temperature adjustments. Above time, the plants drop and die.

Landscape Fabrics

texture of non woven fabric

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Geotextiles, also identified as landscape fabrics, let air and drinking water through to the soil beneath even though preserving weeds from coming up. But however, there are some negatives: When exposed to gentle, geotextiles degrade in excess of time. To make them previous more time, deal with them with a second mulch (they’re unsightly, so you’d want to, in any case).

Comparable to plastic mulch, keep geotextiles away from shrubs. Shrub roots and weeds expand up into the landscape cloth, which suggests you can expect to have to rip the landscape cloth on their removing.

How to Mulch Correctly

There are two cardinal procedures for making use of mulch to fight weeds. First, lay the mulch down on soil that is by now weeded, and second, lay down a thick-sufficient layer to discourage new weeds from coming up through it.

A 4-inch layer of mulch will discourage weeds, whilst a two-inch layer is usually sufficient in shady places. If you know that a back garden bed is loaded with weed seeds or perennial roots, attempt a double-mulching system to avert a weed explosion. To do so, set plants in location, drinking water them perfectly, distribute newspaper, and best it with mulch.

Mulches that also retains humidity (like wooden chips) can sluggish soil warming. In spring, pull mulch away from perennials and bulbs for speedier development. A damp mulch piled versus the stems of flowers and vegetables can result in them to rot keep mulch about just one inch away from crowns and stems.

Mulch piled up versus woody stems of shrubs and trees can also result in rot and encourages rodents (these types of as voles and mice) to nest there. Retain deep mulch pulled back again about six to twelve inches from trunks.

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