Right now is a great time to refresh your mulch. Mulching beds and borders doesn’t just make them look better, it makes trees, shrubs and plants happier, too. When you cover the open spaces around plants with a layer of ground bark, wood chips or other mulches, plants benefit in many ways.
Mulch saves water by reducing moisture loss. The shaded soil keeps the root zone from heating up as much. When laid thick enough, mulching prevents weeds from growing.
For the best results, lay three to four inches to save water and block weeds. If weeds aren’t a concern, two to three inches of mulch is fine, so long as it’s uniform.
FOLLOW THIS METHOD USED BY Pros TO SPEED MULCHING:
- Distribute unopened bags of mulch evenly throughout the garden bed. Reserve a few bags for finishing touches.
- Use a pointed shovel to stab each bag so the wide side opens. Then simply pick up the bag on either end and dump out the contents.
- Take a rake to spread the mulch.
- Put on gardening gloves and spread mulch under each plant, leaving a 2-inch gap between the stem or trunk of the plant and the mulch.
- Do not mound the mulch around tree trunks like a volcano. Mulch touching these parts can kill trees and shrubs.
- Use reserve bags to provide even coverage in corners, around sprinkler heads, along the lawn edge and beneath smaller plants to finish up.
Find out the best tools for the job. Read about top tools for mulching.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT MULCH:
- To improve your soil and add nutrients to your garden, use compost.
- For natural-looking mulch, use shredded bark, bark nuggets or pine straw. Bonus: Pine straw is good for acid-loving plants like azaleas.
- For an informal-looking mulch, use wood chips. They last a long time but can take nitrogen from the soil as they break down. Save them for use around big shrubs.
- For a low-maintenance mulch, use lava rocks, gravel or pebbles. Caution: Dark stones absorb heat and light ones reflect sunlight, so they can overheat plants in hot weather.