Much ado about mulching

mulchThink of mulch as sun block for plant roots. Just two to four inches of mulch can substantially retain soil moisture, slow evaporation, and protect roots from overheating, which is especially helpful to ornamentals and vegetables. Hate weeding? Start mulching. Mulch can reduce or eliminate weeds that compete with landscape plants for moisture, nutrients, and sunlight. Mulch can be organic or inorganic material. Organic mulches, such as pine straw, pine bark, and shredded hardwood, are the best choices because they retain moisture and add nutrients to the soil as they decompose.

How to mulch

  1. Before mulching a plant bed, remove all weeds. Do it early in the year before weeds get established. This will save you weeding time later.
  2. Work a thin layer of mulch into the soil and then add two to four inches on top. Spread it out, and avoid making big mounds of mulch.
  3. Mulch the entire root zone of the plant out to the drip line (leaf canopy).
  4. When mulching around shrubs and small trees, make an earth basin and keep the mulch pulled back a few inches to prevent rotting the trunks. Shallow plants, such as azaleas, rhododendrons and dogwoods, need the most mulching.

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