Mulch is a material spread on top of the ground to benefit soil and plant health, and make landscape maintenance easier. It is one of the easiest, least expensive, and most effective things you can do to improve your yard and the environment. Mulching benefits are as follows:
– Prevents soil compaction
– Prevents erosion
– Suppresses weeds
– Captures rainwater and irrigation water and retains soil moisture
– Protects roots from the sun’s heat
– Protects plant crowns from winter cold
– Protects and stimulates healthy microbal activity in the soil
– Adds nutrients to the soil as the mulch breaks down
– Mulch all areas that are not in grass or thick ground cover
– To prevent diseases and pest infestation, avoid piling mulch against tree trunks.
– Use a layer of coarse mulch 3″ or more in depth for weed control.
– Cover perennials with several inches of loose mulch to protect from winter cold.
– Spread mulches under annuals after they are 4″ to 6″ tall.
– Water the ground thoroughly before and after applying a mulch cover.
Some good mulching materials are: compost, grass clippings (dried), shredded leaves, old straw, wood shavings or bark chips. Avoid using plastics, fabric, or gravel. They are unattractive, and don’t break down into humus for the soil.