Did you mulch your garden plants before expecting results? But perhaps, the fundamental questions should be: What is mulching? What are its advantages?
Many gardeners and garden owners have seen their garden plants not yielding the best results they desire. They invest so much and gain so little.
This is large because a certain process of preventing damage to plants has not been adopted. It is an essential practice used to avoid damage to plants and yield results.
If you desire incredible results from your garden, then never take with levity the technique of mulching. It has been and still remains one of the seamless practices that you can undertake for your garden to produce best, desired, and desirable outcomes.
Here is the hard truth: Taking the mulching task seriously can save you huge costs. You can either take the practice into your hands or engage the service of professionals. But you can be sure that the former process will cost you less compared to having it done professionally.
Let us quickly walk you through the details of mulching and all that you need to know about the practice.
What is mulching?
To have a better and easier grasp of what mulching is, let us explain what mulch means in the first place. Typically, Mulch is an organic layer of material applied on the surface of the soil in order to protect roots from heat, cold, and drought.
It also helps in providing organic nutrients to plants as they decompose. Mulch is a nutrient-rich, moisture absorbent bed of decaying forest leaves. It occurs naturally in all forests.
Applying mulch to soil surface also helps to maintain moisture, reduce weed growth, mitigate soil erosion, and improve soil conditions.
Technically speaking; therefore, mulching is a process or way of spreading organic plants on the soil surface to dramatically improve soil productivity. The process is used both in commercial crop production and in gardening. Generally, mulching serves both functional and decorative purposes.
Depending on the method you want to use, mulch can be practiced in two ways, namely, organic and non-organic forms. The most frequently used of the methods is organic mulching, but the inorganic technique is also very useful.
The organic mulching makes use of materials such as grass, straw, wood chips, and shredded bark; whereas, the frequently used inorganic mulching materials include plastic sheeting, stones, and volcanic rock.
Once you have chosen the appropriate method and plant for a given site and followed the proper planting procedures, the next thing to do is to mulch the plant and create a stable environment for root growth.
One interesting thing is that you can create materials that are required for organic mulching with little or no cost. All you will be paying for is the labor to spread the mulch, that is, if you are not taking it into your hands.
When do I apply mulch?
Especially if you are applying mulch in your garden beds for Summer It is good to apply mulch on biennials, perennials and shrub beds in Spring season, usually between late April or early May.
This is the period the weather becomes consistently warm; the soil is warmed up to allow plant growth. Sometimes, too, mulching can be done in winter cold zones.
This will help keep newly planted things from frozen into the ground. Meanwhile, ensure the soil has a chance to warm and dry a bit. Mulching these plants, as soon as possible, may prevent successful reseeding. Then the time you apply to replenish is in fall or the next spring.
As a complementary step, spreading mulch during winter is also good. It serves as a blanket and protection that insulate plant roots from relapsing into unstable temperatures.
However, caution must be taken to ensure that the thick layer of mulch is spread after the first hard freeze. This is to give plants resistance against harm caused by freeze and thus prevent dormancy before Spring.
Caveat: Your soil will be adversely affected when mulch is applied at the wrong time of year. Try to take the timing seriously.
How do I lay down mulch?
As to spreading, mulch a 2- or 3-inch layer. This is the general deep layer recommended. However, half of that could do for underlying soil.
The reason for this 2-3 inch depth is to allow plants to breathe freely. Do not apply mulch when you have weeds around your garden. They will choke up the mulch and.
Also make sure you water your soil quite well to saturate the soil before applying mulching, especially if it has not rained for a while prior to mulching.
How do I prevent plant damage with mulching?
To prevent pests and diseases from ravaging your plants, as much as possible, try to keep the mulch away from trunks of trees and shrubs. Apply mulch to new beds each time panting is done.
To protect young plants from damage, for instance, the graft union on roses, use materials like evergreen boughs as mulches.
Types of mulching materials and Nutrient value
Wood chips: Wood chips are chopped up specks of wood in small chunks and shredded pieces. They could also contain bits of barks and leaves.
They are usually a byproduct of the pruning of trees. On average, the bits of wood range 1 to 5 inches long and up to 3 inches across They serve as a way of disposing of bulky waste.
However, because of its chemical composition (leaves, bark or many other tree species), wood chips make a good choice for adding nutrients to the soil. Hardwood chips are readily available.
Plastic mulch: these are crops that grow through holes in thin plastic sheeting.
Shredded Leaves. These are leaves that have a variable in texture. They can be collected and shredded at home. They serve as mulch and can be mixed into the soil in the Fall and allow to decompose naturally during the winter to bring about enhanced soil quality
Peat Moss. They compact readily because of their fine texture. They also dry out quickly. They are best mixed with soil and other materials, although they are not good as a top dressing mulch due to the fact that water will not pass through when dry.
Other types of mulch include Pine Boughs, Pine Needles, Sawdust, sewage sludge, straw, mushroom compost, animal manure, compost leaf litter, etc.
What is the importance of mulching?
The importance of mulching cannot be overemphasized in the garden and in large crop production. From our previous discussion, we understand that mulches are used as ornaments in the garden or plantation.
More importantly, mulching the soil surface plays a functional role in bringing about productive plant yield.
One good thing you find about spreading much on the soil surface where plants are is that it ensures good moistening and soil conditions for the qualitative growth of your plant.
Also, mulches, whether organic or synthetic also improve soil fertility. In addition, mulches have the following important benefits:
Provides a protection layer:
Mulches provide the soil with an insulation layer. They keep the soil warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
Plant roots are shielded at extreme temperatures, reducing the harmful effect of freezing and thawing of the soil in winter. They keep the soil beneath soggy longer than bare soil.
Doing this naturally prevents evaporation by the wind. Mulching soil surface helps maintain temperate temperatures even at any time of the day, including the night.
In other words, they moderate soil temperature. They serve as support to the roots of the plants and trees
Conserves soil moisture:
Mulched soils have the capacity to conserve moisture than bare soil. The surfaces of bare soil often heat up in summer, resulting in water evaporation.
Sometimes, it causes plants root to desiccate and die. However, a layer of mulch on the soil reduces the loss of moisture and so prevents sunlight from reaching and heating the soil.
Mulching does reduce the stress of watering the garden during high summer temperatures. They also improve soil structure and aeration
Improve the soil’s physical structure and fertility:
As mulch grinds down into the soil and decomposes, it adds humus to the soil.
This humus serves as a great organic matter, especially on the surface of heavy clay soils, improving the holding capacity of the water of light, sandy soils.
It thus slowly releases nitrogen and phosphorus into the soil. Mulches also add nutrients to the soil as they compost and breaks down organisms
Prevents erosion and water runoff
. While bare soil disperses and breaks apart as soon as rain or sprinkler droplets impact on it, mulched soil gains a sort of ‘sponge’ which serves as an absorbent agent for the soil to absorb water and slows down water runoff.
Mulch provides the soil with protection that insulates it from being eroded. Water runoff is reduced on mulched soil. They control any kind of soil erosion by improving the cushioning of the impact of raindrops.
Purges/Reduces root competition:
Mulches have a high capacity to prevent weed growth by shading them out from the soil surface around the plant. Applying mulches under tree and shrub plants purges unnecessary rivalry from other plants for water and nutrients.
Turf roots are especially aggressive and pose the largest threat of competition to trees and shrubs. Using plants that are more compatible with tree roots creates a sort of “living” mulch.
Such compatible plants include bulbs, wildflowers, ferns, ground covers, and other herbaceous perennials.
Shields grass from lawn mower damage
Synthetic mulches improve soil solarisation processes. Solarization process of mulching involves the use of clear plastic.
Difference between wood chips and bark mulch
Because both wood chips and bark mulch (often called shredded bark mulch) ultimately come from trees, one may assume that they are both the same.
No. There are different, and each of them has functions and properties that are beneficial for specific plants, soil, and applications.
Mulching trees with chunky wood chips and bark mulch are gotten from nature, that is, from trimmed trees, whereas shredded bark mulches may contain wood recycled from the lumber and paper industries.
Which is better: black plastic or landscape fabric mulch?
Well, each of these two mulches serves different purpose and functions on your soil. Black plastic can be used for sweet potatoes or pumpkins to heat an area and control weed.
Caution must be taken not to leave the mulch there because black plastic mulch prevents moisture from entering the soil.
The best approach is to fold and reuse it the year after. Black plastic also helps to suppress weeds, and this process is called tarping.
On the other hand, landscape fabric, which is otherwise called geotextiles as useful as they are in preventing weed beneath gravel of pathways, they should not be used in garden beds. They are not good mulching materials.
How do you mulch your Landscape beds?
Mulching landscape beds is one of the easiest mulching processes to do I your garden. It gives you prettier, healthier plantings.
Usually, shredded hardwood is the best mulch material to use for landscape beds design. This material has a chance of staying on your beds from one to three years.
If you are looking at creating an eye-catching natural look in woodland settings and landscape beds, then shredded hardwood is the best choice. The material is also perfect for sloppy areas and in flood-prone zones.
What is mulching grass?
It is always exciting mowing your lawn as it keeps your garden healthy, but what about disposing of the grass clippings? Grass clippings serve as mulching grass.
They are mulched into the lawn of your garden. They settle down onto the soil and decompose. The more the clippings break down, the more nutrients they add to the soil.
For instance, mulching grass adds a lot of nitrogen to the soil. So, you wouldn’t need many chemical fertilizers when the mulched grass clippings are in place.
From this post, you have gained deep insight into what mulching is and how the process can help you get the best result you want in your garden. We hope you got an answer to your question “What is Mulching and its Advantages?”