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Much Ado About Mulch

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Jessica
04.24.12

What can prevent your soil from eroding, make your red roses more vibrant and discourage weeds in your wisteria patch? Mulch. Whether it’s bark, wood chips, straw or compost, mulch is your garden’s secret ingredient to success. It may not be as exciting as planting those darling daisies, but it’s equally important. Mulch mimics the leaf cover you’d find on forest floors. It retains moisture in your garden, reduces soil erosion and suppresses weed growth, among other benefits.

What is mulch?

Basically, mulch is anything that breaks down over time to add organic matter to the soil. Mulch doesn’t have to be brown and store-bought. Yesterday’s newspaper, last weekend’s grass clippings and even this morning’s eggshells are all nutrient rich and count as mulch. If you prefer the classic brown-mulch look, you’ll find mulch at your local hardware store in a variety of forms. A few common forms include: bark, wood chips, leaves, straw, pine needles and shells.

Why does your garden need mulch?

Mulch can help your garden many of fronts. Let us count the ways.

  1. Mulch moderates your soil’s temperature so your plants aren’t in shock from too hot or too cold weather.

  2. Mulch provides decomposing matter, which gives plants added nutrition.

  3. Mulch creates a home for beneficial creatures like earthworms.

  4. Weeds find it hard to grow in mulch.

  5. Mulch reduces the effects of heavy rains or soil erosion.

When should you apply mulch?

You can add mulch anytime, but it’s best to apply much during the planting season (so, right now!). This way, weeds haven’t had a chance to grow. It’s easier to deter weeds than fight them once they’ve weeded their way into your garden.

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