FAQs About Mulches

Plants need all the right nutrients they can get to grow well and flourish. Although the soil provides them most of these, there are other ways that you can help them to thrive better. One of these ways is through mulching.

To understand what mulch is, here are some FAQs about them along with the answers:

Q. What is mulch?

A. Mulch is a layer of natural material applied on top of the soil that helps conserve moisture, adds nutrients to the topsoil, and protects the soil against extremes of climate. The shade provided by mulch helps lessen evaporation and lower the need for watering during summer. Mulch also keeps the soil cool so that earthworms and other micro-organisms remain active near the surface, allowing them to do their work. It also prevents the growth of weeds and reduces the need for cultivation since it thwarts soil crusts from forming.

Q. What are different types of mulch?

A. There are three main types of mulches: feeding, woody, and permanent.

Feeding mulches break down rapidly to feed the soil; as such, they need topping up repeatedly. They are ideal for fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and flowering plants. Examples of feeding mulches are pea straw, lupin, and Lucerne.

Woody mulches are basically wood chips. They are best suited for hardy plants such as trees and shrubs.

Permanent mulches are typically used for landscaping effects. The usual materials for this type of mulch include pebbles, crushed brick, and stone. They help hold moisture in the soil and are recommended for plants that don’t drop many leaves, such as succulents.

Q. How can I choose which mulch is best to use?

A. Availability is usually the deciding factor that will enable you to select the best type of mulch. This is especially true if you want to make them yourself. If you want to buy them, the choice will usually depend on your personal preference. In general, fine mulches are more ideal for more formal gardens. For gardens that have numerous foliage plants and fewer flowering plants, colourful mulches are best since they offer a strong contrast to the foliage. Whatever you buy, make sure you choose one that is organic.

Q. When is the best time to mulch?

A. It is best to apply mulch at the end of winter or in the beginning of spring, when the ground is still reasonably moist and cool, and before summer unleashes its effects on your plants and garden.

Q. How deeply should I mulch my garden?

A. Experts recommend mulch to be applied to a depth of 100mm so that they can provide an effective weed-suppressing layer and help maximise moisture retention in the soil. However, remember to keep mulch a few centimetres away from the stems of your plants since if they are covered, they may rot.

Q. What is the best way to prepare the garden before applying mulch?

A. Before applying mulch, make sure your soil is healthy, has adequate compost and organic matter, and has enough fertiliser to allow the plants to grow. Also, water your garden well before application.

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