Mulching can be one of the most beneficial things you can do for your soil and your plants. If you have not considered mulching your garden in the past, you may want to reconsider.
The main reason for mulch is to retain moisture in the soil. A three inch layer of mulch will reduce evaporation and lessen your watering time. Mulch protects soil from baking and drying out by altering the soil temperature and serving as an insulator to accommodate the surface needs in both the summer and winter seasons. Mulch also prevents soil crusting by allowing water to penetrate into the soil for absorption and movement. Consistent moisture fosters healthy plant growth.
Another benefit of mulch is weed reduction. A layer of mulch will help prevent the germination of many weed seeds, reducing the need for cultivation or the use of herbicides. Weed seedlings will smother before they are tall enough to peek through the mulch. Weeds use up water and nutrients intended for your plants. A weed free garden is lush with the proper plants. If weeds are allowed to grow, they will choke out what you have spent so much time and energy designing and planting.
While there are many types of mulch, organic mulches such as wood chips, grass clippings or other locally available materials help improve the soil by adding organic matter as they decompose. They also may encourage the growth of worms and other beneficial soil organisms that can help improve soil structure and the availability of nutrients for plans.
Mulches can also be used to enhance the look of your property. Many bark mulches provide uniformly rich brown color that contrasts with the plants. The mulch helps keep plants clean by reducing the splash of soil onto leaves during rainstorms, and helps infiltration of the rainfall into the garden.
In summary, the main reasons to use mulch are:
- Helps maintain even soil temperature in the roots by keeping them cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
- Promotes plant growth.
- Controls weeds.
- Conserves soil moisture, meaning you use less water.
- Improves soil structure and quality over the root area.
- Protects from mechanical damage (Mowers, string trimmers, etc.)
- Helps beautify your plantings.