Whenever people talk about gardening basics, watering, fertilizing, and weeding instantly come to mind. Today, mulching has become an integral part of it. Its benefits go beyond prettifying a garden, because it offers significant reduction in weed presence, unparalleled moisture retention in soil, and keeping erosion at bay.
Of course, these benefits are present only if mulching is done right. If it’s your first time to mulch, here are some important steps to take.
First, choose the right mulch for your gardening needs. Some gardens need a lot of “movement”, as with vegetable patches and perennial plants. If the soil needs to be regularly composted, you will do best with organic mulches like grass, bark, and leaves. A semi-permanent gardening set-up can benefit from inorganic mulches like stone and shredded rubber.
It’s also a good idea to take weather conditions into consideration. For instance, windy days can blow away light pine needles, sawdust, and straw and make a mess instead of a neat garden.
Secondly, weed. Pull out all visible weeds, and take extra care not to scatter any spores from unwanted plants. Rake the area carefully, then spread a weed barrier over the soil to further prevent weeds from penetrating the mulch.
Next, calculate how much mulch you will need. You can avoid overspending or running out of mulch too soon. The appropriate mulch depth is at two inches, so if you’re mulching a six-feet by three-feet flower bed, you will need around three cubic feet of mulch.
Label newly-planted seeds. Use popsicle sticks with the names of the plants on them.This will keep your garden organized and easier to maintain should specific plants have special gardening needs. You would also want to avoid mulching over the seeds because they need space to grow.
Then water all plants prior to mulching. All the plants, young or old, that you want to protect with mulch need to be watered before applying mulch on their bed. This is also the best time to add fertilizer.
Apply mulch carefully over the soil. Let the mulching begin! Take a trowel and carefully spread mulch in a two-inch depth over the weeded area. Take extra care not to pile up mulch at the base of plants because it can smother them. If mulching near fully grown trees, leave at least a diameter of three feet around the base mulch-free. If you want to smoothen out the mulch further, use a garden rake.
Now you have a garden that retains moisture and fertilizer in the soil and roots where it needs them most – and you won’t have to worry about replenishing mulch everyday!