When you think of adding things to your garden mulch may not be high on the list, but actually it’s one of the best things you can add. Mulch can help protect plants and their roots from extreme temperatures and help them absorb and retain water better. Thus, mulch will keep a garden healthier, more resistant to drought and is great for weed control while improving soil quality. Adding mulch to your garden can save much time and energy and help to simplify your other Tulsa lawn care tasks.
But how much do you need and which type of mulch should you use?
There are various types of organic and inorganic mulch. Organic mulches like cedar bark, wood chips, shredded leaves, hay, compost, and grass clippings will add nutrients to the soil as they decompose. Inorganic materials include stone, gravel, or black plastic and other landscape fabrics. Stone or gravel can be good to use around areas that are likely to get washed out, and black plastic and landscape fabrics are helpful in vegetable gardens to help warm the soil and hold moisture.
Organic mulch is usually best because it adds nutrients to the soil. Different types of organic mulch though can be better for distinct areas. For instance, fresh organic mulch will be more effective at controlling weeds than aged mulch, but will take longer to decompose, TheFamilyHandyman.com noted. So fresh mulch won’t add nutrients to the soil as fast as aged mulch to help encourage plant growth, but on the other hand, will last longer. Therefore, fresh mulch may work better around trees and shrubs that need more weed control than nutrients in the soil. Like fresh mulch, large pieces of mulch like wood bark will take longer to decompose and thus will last much longer.
Mulch for your flower bed may consist of shredded leaves from your landscape. Grass clippings can add a great deal of nitrogen to your vegetable garden. These organic and free mulches can help make your gardens healthy and beautiful.
How much mulch should you apply?
A deposit of mulch about 4 inches in depth will usually be enough to discourage weed growth and help retain moisture although 2-3 inches may be enough in shadier areas. On slopes, more mulch may be needed to help it stay in place, possibly around 6 inches as it may shift more frequently.
Before you apply mulch to an area, be sure to weed the soil. Keep about a 6 to 12-inch area around woody stems free from mulch as well as about a 1-inch area around the base of plants and vegetables free from mulch to prevent rotting.
While organic mulch helps the soil to retain moisture, it can also prevent the soil from warming in the spring. Thus, mulch will need to be pulled away from around perennials in the spring to allow them to grow better.
The Tulsa lawn care specialists at Oklahoma Landscape can take all the hassle out of lawn and garden maintenance with our custom lawn maintenance, weed control and fertilization programs. Call us today for more information!