When Is The Best Time To Mulch?

Bill Taylor
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What is Mulch?

Mulch is any natural or manmade material used to insulate plants from the elements. Bark may just be the best mulch to use for your garden. It protects the root systems from the cold and the heat, adds a buffer against low and high pH levels, and slows the release of moisture into the surrounding earth.

There are other types of mulch that people use for their garden, also. Tree leaves make a great material to use as mulch. Leaves add a wonderful scent to the area and warm up the soil a bit. Loose bark or charcoal used for grilling or making barbeque are other examples of using mulches in a garden.

The mulches which are useful as containers and ornamental plants are more specific and come in different textures and colors. A choice of mulches available are: Cocoa shells, crushed oyster shells, dolomite, shredded hardwood leaves and bark, fine wood shavings, and pea gravel among others.

The choice you make for mulches will affect how thick you put it on. Cocoa shells, for example, may be put on up to six inches. Powder bark mulches, on the other hand, may only need to be spread a maximum of three inches.

These types of mulches are best put on in late fall or in the early spring because it's easier to provide the right amount of moisture without letting the ground become too saturated.

When’s The Best Time To Mulch?

Mulch is a great way to give your plants more natural water retention and reduce the chances of weeds. It also adds a nice decorative feature. Whether it’s placed around the base of the tree, planted in a flower bed, or spread in the garden, mulch will keep the area looking healthy and balanced.

To keep your landscape looking beautiful and to improve plant health, you need to find the best time to mulch. Well, for most plants, that’s just after they’ve finished flowering. Alternatively, you can also add mulch in the fall, a few weeks before freezing temperatures. That way, the mulch will help to retain moisture in the ground, even when there's snow cover. However, after you mulch, weed growth may be encouraged. You'll likely need to weed a few times in the spring to get rid of the new growth.

Things To Remember When Mulching

Mulch is a must in your garden. It not only keeps the soil cool and moist during hot and dry summer weather, but also keeps the weeds at bay. Mulching is a simple addition to any garden, but there are some things to remember when mulching.

Time is an important factor when it comes to mulching. Mulch should be applied to your garden six to eight weeks after the last frost. The reason for this is that the summer conditions can burn the roots of your plants if you place mulch on top of the ground too early in the season. Another reason why mulching in the summer is a bad idea is because it keeps the soil too moist, which can cause plant diseases and the growth of fungus on the plants.

While adding mulch to your garden in early springtime is a great idea, it is best to avoid mulching late in the season. Mulch is loose and can blow away if you add it to your garden too close to the fall and winter seasons.

How you care for your mulch in the winter consumes another factor. You should rake your mulch into the soil when the fall arrives so that it can shelter the soil from the heat of the sun during the winter. While raking your mulch into the ground, you can also add an additional layer to add better protection to your garden.

Advantages Of Mulching

There are several reasons why a pre-seeding mulch can be a good option for you. However, the main reason is that often times as the spring is approaching, the soil is very high in phosphorus and nitrogen. This can make seeding quite difficult, especially when your seed has to push through the soil to make it to the surface. The pre-seeding mulch can act as a buffer to the high phosphorus and nitrogen levels within your soil. It will also keep the soil temperatures much warmer. This will prevent the seed from being exposed to cold and dry temperatures out of the ground too long.

This will also limit the amount of water that is needed to be applied. This is especially helpful when there are places in your landscape such as full grown trees that are already demanding the water. Having a pre-seeding mulch in the right place can significantly balance your landscape giving you the beautiful garden that you want.

Disadvantages Of Mulching

Mulch can cut down on weed growth and help control erosion in your garden. It can also prevent your soil from drying out during the hottest seasons of the year. The main disadvantage of mulching is that you need to replace it every year or two. It will not break down in your garden unless it is composted first. When you use a non-compostable mulch, it ends up going to landfill, adding to your contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

Another disadvantage of mulch is that it can maintain high humidity. If you live in a rainy climate or one with wet summers, adding mulch to your garden may result in too much moisture in the ground, which can encourage fungus and mold growth.

Also, mulch provides a haven for bugs. Mulch can easily become a breeding ground for bees, ants, and other insects that can come in contact with your garden.

Mulch is attractive to rodents. Rodents tend to enjoy the protection that mulch can offer. It can become a home for moles and mice. It can also be a safe place for foxes and skunks to hide, if they choose to prey on your garden.

Plus, in order to create the best effect from your mulch, you need to add several inches onto the soil surface. This can prevent you from planting seeds, seedlings and plants deep enough for them to obtain the soil nutrients they need to thrive.

Final Words

Mulches are rarely used for aesthetic appeal only. Whenever people mulch in their yards, they tend to have a reason for doing so. Mulches come in handy for a variety of things, depending on the type of mulch one uses.

As such, you can use mulches for improving the appearance of your yard, as a soil conditioner, as a measure to keep your plants free from unwanted weeds, as a help in preventing erosion, or as a means to conserve water. A mulch aids in the breakdown of organic matter and this, in turn, aids in the enrichment of the soil.

Using mulches is a great way of increasing the production of your plants significantly. Mulches also help provide various nutritional benefits to plants.

One important thing to keep in mind is that people usually add mulches to their yards at different times. This means that there is no one proven best time to mulch a yard. In spite of this, people tend to use mulches more frequently during the spring season. If you were to use mulches during the period between autumn and winter, you may have difficulty in providing adequate mulching.