Out of all the gardening chores on the to-do list this summer, mulching is our number one favourite.
Not only does mulch suppress weed growth, it reduces moisture loss, lessens the need for water and provides nutrients to the plants all at the same time – it’s a natural wonder, so every garden should have it.
At Fence and Garden Sunshine Coast, we recommend the use of organic mulches made of chopped leaves, straw, grass clippings, compost, wood chips, and sometimes, paper.
Alternatively, inorganic mulch can be composed of gravel, black plastic and rubber chips.
Mulch is a fantastic solution as we enter into the summer months, which as a result of climate change are getting hotter and more intense, so we will need to ensure our gardens are shielded from the harsh elements.
Organic mulch can provide the much-needed shade to delicate seedless, and is a great insulator for keeping roots cool.
Much also improves soil conditions by increasing the biological actively and providing the beneficial micro-organisms and earthworms with food. It can save time and energy cultivating good soil conditions and stop the good nutrients from leaching out of the soil.
If you’re someone with a large backyard, grass clippings and leaves are a perfect natural mulch, and will work particularly well if layered on the base of trees and bushes. These break down fast and add nutrients to the soil. If fresh, grass clippings should be applied in thin layers because they can start to rot when wet. Alternatively, they can be applied more thickly if they are first dried. There is a risk, though that that seeds from the grass (or weeds in it) start to germinate.
Compost is another favourite, as it breaks down faster than other organic mulch options, so would need to be replaced regularly. Compost is best used as a soil conditioner and can be used side-by-side with other organise composes, such as straw, shredded bark or wood chips.
Here are the steps to apply mulch to your garden:
To ensure success, take these few steps before laying mulch down:
- Remove weeds
- Moisten the soil thoroughly. Ensure that the water you apply is penetrating.
- If water is running off the surface, fork through some compost to aid with the water retention.
- If you are planting into the soil, add some compost into the planting hole.
- Apply large particle-sized mulch thickly (6 – 8cm deep), keeping the area directly around plants clear.
- If you are using bark- or wood-based mulches, you might consider sprinkling some blood and bone over the soil. This extra nitrogen will compensate for any nitrogen being taken up by the gradual decomposition of the mulch.