Mulching is an important part of gardening and should be a part of every gardener‘s tasks. Mulch prevents weeds from encroaching on the garden thus reducing labor, it helps the soil retain moisture and it adds nutrients to the soil as is breaks down. Anything from shredded newspaper to bark chips and fallen leaves to straw can be applied as a mulch.
Spread organic mulch around the base of vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees with a shovel or rake. Keep the mulch 4 to 6 inches away from the trunks or stems of established plants. Perennials and annuals and vegetables will benefit from using a lighter mulch such as buckwheat hulls. Shrub beds should be mulched with the somewhat heavier bark mulch. Layer mulch 2 to 4 inches deep, thick enough to block light and keep weeds from sprouting.
Raking the mulch as it fades in color will expose new surfaces that have not faded in the sunlight and add a fresh look to the garden. Replenish mulch as it decomposes or gets raked away during the fall clean-up. Mulch decomposes as it ages and actually enriches your garden soil, much like compost. Adding mulch to your garden will, over time, improve the soil and reduce the need for weeding.
Compost is often mistaken as mulch. Compost, however, is worked into the existing soil in order to enrich it and improve soil texture. It won't prevent weeds like mulch. Mulch, on the other hand, is applied to the surface of the soil. Using inorganic mulch such as rock or black plastic will also work to prevent weeds from growing, but they don't break down to enrich the soil.Related Articles: Planting Garden Shrubs, Composting, Garden Soil