TIME TO MULCH
Updated: Oct 15, 2020
Spring and Summer Mulch
If you are a first-time gardener, get your gloves on and get ready to learn all about the amazing world of mulch! If you have seasoned green fingers, let's see how much you know about mulch!
First of all, what exactly is mulch?
Simple, really. It is basically any kind of organic material that is put over the top of the soil as a covering. Organic mulch could include bark or bits that have been chipped off trees, cut grass or leaves and even newspaper (unless you get your newspapers off your iPad, in which case, that's not really mulch-friendly material).
So why would anyone need to cover their soil with another layer of stuff?
Mulch actually has an amazing array of benefits. Check out this list of benefits and you may well find yourself rolling up your sleeves ready to give your garden a much-needed layer of mulch.
Why mulch? Here's why.
It helps to retain moisture in the soil.
Having that extra layer means you keep the moisture in. You can water less (saving time and money) when you have a layer of mulch that reduces evaporation and water loss. The soil is kept gently moist with the mulch and it also reduces water run-off when it rains or when you water.
It is great for balancing out temperature extremes.
Mulch works like an insulator. It keeps the roots cool in summer and warm in winter. Believe it or not, plants do get stressed out when temperatures fluctuate or swing to the extremes. They do not like getting their roots roasted in the heat and neither do they like the experience of frost bite in the winter. If you are in an area where frost could be a problem, mulch can help reduce damage by acting as a blanket to protect the plants. Since mulch balances the temperatures, you can leave it there the whole year round and there is no need to place it or remove it depending on the seasons.
It discourages weeds from growing.
Mulch acts as a natural barrier for weeds. With that added layer, less sunlight can reach the soil and weeds have a lot less inspiration to burst out and flourish. And if stubborn ones do get through, you will also find it easier to remove them. After all, they have had to fight quite a bit to get through that thick layer of mulch. You will find weeds a lot more willing to be removed with a layer of mulch to knock the air out of them. Imagine the amazing lot of time saved on weeding, which is the one chore gardeners moan most about. A big plus point about organic mulch is it is all natural so you are getting rid of weeds without a need for corrosive weedkiller sprays.
It improves the soil.
Organic mulches are great for the soil. All the good stuff from these natural cut off bits decompose and seep into the soil below and helps to improve the soil's nutrient-holding capacity. It is like giving the soil an extra boost of yummy slow-release fertilizer while recycling all the chipped off and cut off bits from other vegetation. So you are actually also saving money on buying fertilizer. Mulch also has the added benefit of helping to bind soil that is very sandy and, amazingly enough, it also helps open up soils that have a more clay-like texture. That is how beautifully intelligent Nature is. It balances itself out. You basically have a win-win situation!
It makes your garden look prettier.
Having a clean layer of mulch means that when your fruits and nuts fall to the ground, you can collect them easily and they are clean. Mulch also helps to prevent soil and mud from splashing during rain or watering so you do not get dirty brown blotches of mud sprayed all over. This keeps your garden looking clean and neat always.
It repels nasty little bugs.
Moving up a level, you can also take note that certain types of mulch material has the added advantage of repelling bugs. If you use cypress, camphor laurel or pinewood chipping, you will have a lot fewer visits from nasty bugs such as gnats, ticks and fleas. These types of wood contain natural oils and chemicals that dampen the enthusiasm of problematic bugs including even termites, from setting up camp in your garden. And an extra tip here - camphor laurel smells nice. It can add a gentle, pleasant aroma in your garden. Imagine working outdoors in your garden with wafts of aromatic mulch floating in the air.
How to Mulch Correctly
By now you are probably convinced that mulching is going to be on the top of your To-Do List for this weekend. There are simple steps to follow so we make sure we mulch correctly.
While you can mulch any time of the year, spring and autumn are the best times. Spring rains help to break down the organic material if you choose to use organic mulch, bringing a good wash of nutrients into the soil. Mulching in the autumn means your plants get the warm protection they need for the coming winter.
Decide what kind of organic mulch material you want to use. You may already have bits of material such as old leaves that you have left in a pile or your neighbour may have some leftover wood chips when they cut down their tree. You can also buy bags of organic mulch from your local gardening store.
Part of preparing to mulch is also preparing your body. Make sure you wear gloves to avoid getting blisters of splinters. Organic mulch may look like bits of leftover natural material but they still weigh quite a bit when piled up, so use a wheelbarrow to help move large amounts of mulch around. Protect your back and keep the objectives of your physical activities separate. Gardening is not the time to get a gym workout and push your limits as to how much you can lift. Gardening can be heavy on the lower back so take bits of rest regularly. Use a pitchfork or rake to spread out the mulch.
Weed your patch of soil where you want to place the mulch. Do it well from the very beginning, like starting off on a clean template. Also, remove bits like dried leaves or bits of branches.
Place a layer of mulch that is thick enough so that new weeds would find it really hard to come up again. Anything from two to four inches would suffice. If you want to be doubly sure, you can try double-mulching - place newspapers as a first layer, and then your desired mulch.
Do take note that your mulch does not pile up against the stems of your plants as that can cause them to rot. It can feel like a permanent sweaty hug to the plants and also, plants do not appreciate getting soggy feet. Give a bit of space between the stems and the mulch. This is the same for trees, so give a six to twelve-inch leeway between the trunks and the mulch.
There you go, an introduction to the amazing world of mulch and how nature recycles itself.
Recipe for mulch
Check out our blog on a recipe for mulch if you feel inspired to go for organic mulch in your garden. Give it a go and tell us how your mulching experience is working for you and your plants.
Call us for Camphor Laurel mulch.
At Accomplished Tree Management, it is not just about dealing with the big trees and removals and checking for hazards. It also starts with the little things like caring for our greenery and how to create the optimum environment for them to grow well.
If you think there is something in your environment that is affecting your trees, talk to us, and you may well discover that a simple change in caring for them could really lift their spirits and avoid any unnecessary heavy works on your trees.
About Accomplished Tree Management: Tel 0411 443 535 Accomplished Tree Management is based in Port Macquarie and services the Mid North Coast. With over 16 years of experience, we employ safe work methods and are certified with Australian AS 4373-2007-Pruning of Amenity Trees standards. We're fully insured with $20 million Public Liability and $1 million Professional Indemnity Insurance. We provide the following tree services -
Tree management - tree removals, palm tree services, council permits
Tree and garden maintenance - hedging, pruning, deadwooding, stump grinding
Tree consultation - arboricultural reports, hazard assessment
"Time to Mulch" is written by Vermilion Pinstripes, a sales marketing and communications agency based in Port Macquarie helping businesses thrive with brand confidence.