Top 10 Do's and Don'ts of Mulching
Mulch has so many benefits, it would almost be silly not to use it. It retains moisture, suppresses weed growth, and provides nutrients - all while making any garden look great. Follow these 10 do's and don'ts to make the most of your mulch this winter.
1. Do Keep it Fresh
Since mulch is organic and will break down, its good to plan on replenishing, even if it’s every two to three years. Be sure to remove any built-up old remains before re-applying new mulch to your garden. This will help maintain the health of the soil below.
2. Do Use it for Decoration
One of the best benefits of mulch is its ability to instantly improve the aesthetics of your garden. Black mulch helps enhance the colour of your flowers, while red-toned mulch will compliment brick exteriors.
3. Do Test Different Types
There's such a wide range of mulch colours and textures available, so spend time trying them out in your garden. Preferences can change over time, so don’t hesitate to try out different mulch types until you’re happy with the look.
4. Do Shake it Up
After a long rainy winter, mulch can become clumpy. take a rake or your hands and ‘fluff’ the mulch, stirring it to separate lumps and improve its appearance
5. Do Adjust the thickness
Thin out the mulch as you’re approaching any edges. Placing a mound of mulch beside a pathway, paver, house wall or tree trunk will only do more damage than good.
6. Don’t Use too Much or Too Little
About 2 to 4 inches is the right amount to use in garden beds for moisture retention and weed prevention. Any more and you’re likely to smother the roots. Any less and you’re not getting the most of your mulch. Each time you replenish mulch, make sure you’re only add enough to bring the total depth back to 2 to 4 inches.
7. Don’t “Volcano Mulch”
Building up the mulch at base of the trunk or plant stem. In the long-run, this may cause collar rot (a fungal disease) or insect damage. It's also likely to restrict air to the soil and suffocate the plants. Mulch applied properly will look more so like a flattened donut - plenty of space in the middle for the root ball to breathe.
8. Don’t Use a Base Layer
There’s a belief that black plastic or landscaping fabric should be between the soil and mulch for weed prevention. However, organic mulches actually need to be in direct contact with the soil for the best results. Not only are fabrics less aesthetic in a garden, they can also prevent water from reaching the soil and increase the chance of runoff.
9. Don’t Leave Soil Exposed
The main purpose of mulch is to protect and nurture the soil beneath, so make sure it’s able to get the job done. Mulch also has great environmental advantages. It helps reduce the chance of erosion and residue runoff from exposed soil on your property.
10. Don’t Use Bad Mulch
This last mistake is pretty self-explanatory. Using mulch from an unreliable source could be your whole garden’s downfall. Spend some time researching to make sure the product is well-reviewed and good quality.