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Mulching is an important garden care practice. It protects plants from the elements, conserves soil moisture, keeps weeds down and helps maintain soil temperature. Mulching is a great way to conserve energy around the garden and reduce the need for manual labor.
When choosing a mulch for your garden, consider the many options available. Organic mulches, such as bark, pine needles, straw, leaves, compost, and hay are ideal because they break down to form compost and add fertility to the soil. Organic mulches also help to reduce compaction in heavy soils and improve soil texture in general. Non-organic mulches, such as plastic and rubber are often used as decorative accents in gardens. While they do help to control weeds, they do not break down and can cause anaerobic conditions in the soil.
Before laying down any mulch, make sure the soil is loose. If the soil is compacted, consider using a rototiller or hand-spade to loosen the soil before installing the mulch. Once the soil is properly tilled, layer the mulch two to three inches thick around your plants. Make sure the mulch does not touch the trunk of plants or shrubs as this can promote fungal diseases. You can use a garden rake to evenly spread out the mulch for the best results.
To keep your mulch in good condition, it’s important to replenish it when necessary. Most organic mulches decompose over time and need to be replenished or replaced. If your garden has an infestation of weeds, make sure to remove that before replacing the mulch.
Mulching does not only reduce weeds, conserve soil moisture and regulate soil temperature, it also makes your garden look neat and tidy.