Someone once said, “The greatest labor-saving garden product ever invented is Mulch”.
Here it is, early Spring and bulbs are blooming, leaves are budding and trees are beginning to flower. Warmer weather has finally found its way to Berks’ County . With the coming of warmer days rain is sure to follow “April showers bring May flowers. While the weather is warm, this could be a great opportunity to clean up within the garden and consider mulching.
Some positive things to consider about using mulch. Soil can retain a higher level of moisture, which in turn helps your plants remain hydrated during hot summer days. Weed control is another plus. I know from my own experiences if your garden has a bald/bare spot it is like a neon sign for weeds to come fill that space and come they will. Weeding chores are greatly reduced when 2 to 3 inches of mulch product is used. Mulch can also help prevent soil erosion during rain while retaining water and creating “moisture moderation”. Before mulching, be sure to remove existing weeds and loosen your soil that will allow the water to better be absorbed by the soil. Another plus, it looks nice - aka aesthetic reasons. Some mulch products can break down over time to help aggregate, giving your soil better structure. While promoting organic matter that helps create a healthier soil that will promote good root growth and that makes a healthy plant.
When applying your mulch don’t push mulch on top of plants crowns or push it up against a stem/trunk of your planting. This is called volcano mulching, critters have been known to burrow. Also, avoid spreading mulch up against your home for the same reason. Fungal disease can occur and cause the tree to become stressed and die.
Tools needed are a wheelbarrow, bucket, and a shovel to move the mulch. If you use bagged mulch, you’ll need a cutting hand tool to slice the bag open while the bag is laying flat beside where you are going to place it, then just flip it over. Tools to spread would include a garden fork – aka pitch fork, flat rake, and/or the flat back of a hoe. I know fellow gardeners, who use a long-handled hockey sticks to spread mulch in deep beds. Tools used when applying mulch depends on the mulch product that you are using, along with the way you purchase your mulch product. Simply, what ever makes it work for you. Your tool of choice may be different, there really isn’t any set rules as to what tools you ”have” to use. Let “Common Sense” guide you…
At this point I will add that some horticulturists will agree that any mulch product will work fine, just as long as no more than two – three inches are used. Just keep in mind what you want to achieve with the type of mulch that is being used.
I read somewhere ”one of the most important things that sustainable gardeners can do is to help create a low-maintenance garden environment”, mulching will enable you to do just that.
Enjoy this unusual warm weather in the garden. Until later, El