Adding mulch to a garden will improve the health of the soil and beautify the appearance of a landscaping.
Cover garden beds with a layer of mulch to keep weeds down and reduce the need for water. Annual weed seeds are less likely to sprout when the soil is covered with enough mulch to keep the soil surface in the dark.
When it comes to water, even a thin layer of mulch (nature’s moisturizer) will reduce evaporation from the soil surface. Thicker mulches can reduce water use by as much as 50 percent.
Kill off sod or dense weeds by layering newspaper, alone or with a thick layer of compost or mulch, directly on the garden site. This treatment cuts off the sunlight to unwanted vegetation, which will eventually decay and add organic matter to the garden. The newspaper will decompose too.
Mulch new plants with straw or chopped leaves after planting in the fall to prevent root damage during winter. A little mulch used immediately after planting can help to keep the soil moist and encourage continued root growth.
Alternately freezing and thawing, expanding and contracting soil can break new roots or even push new plantings out of the ground, a process called frost heaving. By mulching generously with an airy material like straw when the soil first freezes, you can help keep the soil frozen until winter ends, at which point the mulch can be removed.
In winter, mulch evergreen perennials and ground covers with evergreen boughs to protect them from winter burn. When the soil is frozen, the wind is strong, and the sun is bright, moisture is pulled out of the vulnerable leaves and cannot be replaced by the frozen roots. Straw will do the job, especially in colder areas where there is less chance of rot in winter.
Snow is the best mulch of all, and it will grow plants that won’t survive winter in snow-less areas farther south.
Mulching allows nature’s products to replenish the garden, so that nothing is wasted, and in the process that garden will look greener and healthier.