So I recently mulched my garden, as we’ve been getting some crazy heat here in the Midwest these past few weeks, and I thought I would write a blog post about the importance of mulching, along with some great mulching tips.
Mulching is one of the best things you can do for your plants. Mulching protects your plants from extreme temperatures, keeps moisture in, and keeps down nasty weeds (which seem to have no trouble growing in ANY climate!).
There are two types of mulch: Inorganic mulch and organic mulch. Inorganic mulches like stones, gravel, plastic sheets, and landscape fabric, are used mostly for weed control and moisture retention in permanent beds. They don’t decompose, which means they will last a long time, but they won’t contribute any nutrients to the soil.
Organic mulches include bark mulch, wood chips, grass clippings, straw and compost. Bark mulch is probably the most common organic mulch, and it’s a good choice. Aged bark mulch is awesome and probably the best out there, but it can be more expensive.
Try to only buy bark mulch that has been composted for at least one year. Wood chips and sawdust have the same benefits as bark mulch, and it’s cheaper, but it won’t last as long. Arguably the cheapest mulch is grass clippings and shredded leaves. And for being free, they work pretty well as a mulch, as long as they are dried before being laid down. Grass clippings also won’t last very long, but they will add great nutrients to your soil. Make sure you avoid using grass that has been treated with chemicals.
Compost is my personal favorite mulch. Mostly because it’s cheap, but also because it can be used anywhere in the yard, and it feeds the soil good nutrients as it decomposes.
Some other tips: Spreading mulch too deep will suffocate your plants. Spread wood-based mulches about 2″ deep; grass, leaves and straw should be about 3-4″. For inorganic mulches, spread a layer only think enough to prevent weeds. Always leave an inch or two around the base of the plant to allow air to circulate. With trees, leave about 4″ of space.
Here’s a little video we did about this very subject. View, and enjoy.