There are several benefits to mulching your garden, they are as below:
- Mulch around your plant would hold water and allow the root to soak in water more. Especially useful if the soil is sandy.
- Mulch made from sharp objects like thin glass protect your plants from slugs and snails.
Mulch prevents the growth of weeds
- During cold conditions mulch keeps the soil temperature warm.
- During hot conditions mulch prevents the soil temperature from going high.
- Using certain organic matter in your mulch adds to the soil nutrition.
- Prevents the soil from contracting and expanding during climatic changes
Types of mulch to get started with
The various types of mulches you can use in your garden, their advantages and disadvantages are given below
Grass Clippings :When used as mulch they are easy to apply and readily available. The disadvantage is that they decay quickly and you would need to replenish it often.
Wood and bark chips :When used as mulch they are slow to decay and look quite attractive as a boundary to your plants. Avoid using pine barks though as they are highly acidic.
Peat Moss :This mulch is quite popular and provides an advantage of acting as a soil amendment to boot. You would need to buy it from outside and it can be quite expensive. Peat moss as mulch would tend to become crusty due to their contact with water in the long run.
Straw :A very cheap and prudent option as a mulch. The only problem is that it tends to get strewn around in wind and it also acts as a hiding place for rodents.
Decaying dried leaves :Quite a good option for mulch, it prevents the spread of weeds and keeps the soil warm. The only problem is that it may not look too attractive to have dead leaves around your plants. Leaves sprayed with chemicals can lead to soil damage.
Pebbles, stones and dried algae :Most people tend to use these as mulch. They are highly effective and give an attractive look. Definitely recommended for garden in cold climates.
Plastic and Rubber mulch :These materials are also gaining popularity. Plastic and rubber when used as mulch would keep weeds from growing and also keep the soil warm. They have high water retention capability. It may not be very attractive though.
How to apply mulch?
Three three phases during which mulch application is most optimal, they are as below
While planting : after you place the plant in the soil, you should border it with mulch mostly around the root area. Make sure you leave a gap of one inch from the stem, if the mulch is too close to the plant stem it can cause infection.
An inch or so of depth should be more than sufficient from most plants. As far as trees are concerned a depth of 3 to 4 inches would be required. You can use a trowel to dig the trench to spread your mulch.
When mulch depletes: As the plants grows the mulch would start depleting during various reasons. Make sure you add more mulch to balance the depletion.
During frost: These are difficult times for plants especially if it snows in your area. Build a mulch castle around your plants and trim them really low. The mulch can be several inches high to maintain some warmth in the soil. Trim the plant as much as possible, it is ok to have it buried inside the mulch.