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by janice kaiser, greenspring nursery
Mulch enhances the appearance of your
landscape, but also provides many benefits
when installed properly. Mulch will help
conserve moisture, add nutrients to the soil
and plants and reduce weeds in the garden.
It will also keep your soil aerated by reducing
soil compaction and protect roots from
extreme temperatures. Installing a layer of
mulch will enrich your existing soil and
help your plants
thrive and flourish.
Mulch will also
provide a border
to minimize
injury from lawn
equipment. It
certainly looks
better than bare
soil and provides
a finished look
to the garden.
Mulch should be
as natural as your landscape to add beauty
to the garden.
In a naturalized garden, you want your
mulch to look like the forest floor
natural, brown, and clean, without
preservatives. Ideally, you'll want hardwood
mulch, free of weeds or vines. In a more
formal garden, dyed mulch can add
dramatic interest, although recent research
suggests that some of the dyes used may be
damaging to certain tender plants. Other
mulch options include nuggets or bark,
which are more appropriate for windy
areas. You can even make your own much
by shredding leaves, sticks, grass, bark,
or compost to recycle your yard waste.
Whatever you do, don't use black plastic
it retains too much heat and it will break
down, allowing weeds to grow through it
or on top of it.
In order to reap maximum benefits, a layer
of mulch should be no more and no less
than 3 inches thick. More than that and
you risk growth of
fungus or rot; less
than that and weeds
will grow through it.
A coarse mulch will
help to keep weeds
from erupting in
your garden, while a
fine mulch will
decompose quickly,
leading to more
frequent mulching. Before mulching,
remove all weeds and give the soil a good,
thorough soaking.
Ideally, the organic `blanket' of mulch
around trees should extend to the width
of the drip line of the branches. This will
help insulate the roots from extremes of
temperature and will slow evaporation.
Keep the mulch away from the trunk of the
tree and don't mound it up in a `volcano'
around the trunk. This will encourage
unhealthy root growth and can provide a
breeding ground for disease and insects.
Mulch at least once a year ideally in
Spring once the soil has warmed. Another
shallow layer in the Fall will help protect
young or tender plants through the winter.
Mind Your
Mulch should
be no more and
no less than 3
inches thick.
More than that
and you risk
growth of fungus
or rot.
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