How To Mulch

how to mulchA mulch is any sort of material you place over the surface of your yard to retain moisture and improve the soil’s condition and learning how to mulch properly will pay dividends to your yard. However, you have to apply it correctly; too much or the wrong kind can actually harm your yard.

A properly mulched yard needs little additional water, is resilient to the development of weeds, and may even give resistance to various diseases which can affect your grasses and trees. Roughly 2 to 4 inches of organic mulch is recommended for most landscapes; erring on more, rather than less, in the case of poorly draining landscapes or urban landscapes, which are rather unkind to greenery. Less mulch is recommended for areas with poor water drainage because the mulch will last longer.

When purchasing mulch, it is important to recognize the difference between organic and inorganic versions. Inorganic mulch consists of stone, rubber, geotextiles, etc; while it doesn’t decompose or need frequent replenishment, neither does it add nutrients or structure to the soil. Conversely, organic mulch is taken from various plant materials; needs replacing relative to the rate that it decomposes, which varies with soil and environment.

When mulching your yard, make sure to understand the traits common to its plants and soil, such as if the yard has a more acidic or basic pH. When checking existing mulch, aerate it regularly by raking it; this solves any matting and refreshes the appearance. While organic mulching is strongly recommended, it should be composted; avoidance of smelly mulch is also something to keep in mind, as it can even kill off young plants. Composted wood chips, when blended with leaves and bark, can make excellent mulch; provided that said wood chips aren’t packed in so deeply and tall that they can’t be exposed to oxygen.

When mulching is done improperly, root systems can become waterlogged to the point of rotting away, stem tissue can be stressed enough that it invites disease and bugs, soil pH can fluctuate, and the soil may actually starve. Lastly, mounds of mulch around a tree can invite squirrels and other rodents to chew at its bark.


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