Plottings: Your Garden Now

How, why and when to use mulch

Mulching is good for your plants and dramatically reduces the need to weed! Mulch is also great at locking in moisture, providing nutrients, and protecting the roots of plants from winter cold.

Types of mulch:

  • Well rotted farm or stable manure (good for adding plenty of nutrients)
  • Home made compost (provided you are careful about perennial weed roots and seeds)
  • Chunky chip bark (looks good and improves soil as it rots down). Available in two different chunk sizes (the smaller will rot down more quickly)
  • Gravel (or grit - useful around alpines).
  • Grass clippings - but they don't look very good so best at the back of the border/under shrubs. Only use them if you refrain from putting weedkiller on your lawn!

When to mulch: In autumn, around newly planted trees, shrubs or herbaceous perennials. In early winter, tender plants like Verbena bonariensis or dahlias will benefit from a thick mulch. It will help protect roots and the crown of the plant from frost. Don't mulch onto frozen ground - it locks cold in.

The best time to mulch whole beds or borders is in late winter or early Spring - trapping moisture in.

How: Clear the area of weeds and water if necessary as it's difficult to wet dry soil through a layer of mulch. Fill a wheelbarrow with your chosen mulch and spread a 5cm (2in) layer around plants or across the soil with a spade, leaving a little gap around the stems of plants.

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