Most gardeners- beginners as well as veterans fail to appreciate the importance of mulching. And, although scattering straw or tree bark in plant beds doesn’t really seem to be rocket science – mulching is, in fact, quite a scientific process. If you want to go about mulching the right way, these are the top mistakes you should try your very best to avoid...
Going back to what I said earlier – most people do not know the benefits of mulching. For a conscientious farmer, mulching is one of the cardinal rules that shouldn’t be disobeyed. The benefits of mulching include better water retention; cooler soil temperature; less stressed out plant roots; and reduced soil compaction. In addition when the mulch decomposes it adds to the essential organic quality of the soil.
Getting too enthusiastic about mulching and dumping too much of it into your flower beds is yet another mistake overzealous gardeners tend to make. The recommended depth of mulching is 3 inches, exceeding which the fender roots can be pulled up to the surface, causing the plants to be stressed out in extreme weather conditions.
You may think placing fabric or plastic weed barriers underneath the mulch is clever gardening. However, these materials act contrary to the native environment that helps plants thrive. In addition, if you’ve placed organic mulch on top, the plastic will prevent its benefits from seeping into the soil.
When it comes to mulching annual flowering plants, a lot of people pile in large pieces of wood mulch very close to the head of the flowers. This only increases humidity and dampens the bloom. It’s better to use wood fines as mulch and spread it evenly at a depth of close to one-half inch.
Many gardeners make do with trimmings, limbs and branches from trees as mulch. These tend to decay rapidly and you will find yourself having to mulch your plants faster than those who are using standard mulch. Besides, standard mulch contains a lot more fibrous matter than wood chips, which help retain moisture better.
There is no denying that rocks and stones look pretty fancy and add a lot of aesthetic appeal to your landscape. However, they also absorb a lot of heat, which, common sense will tell you, gets passed on to the plant bed. This stresses out the plant roots and in extreme conditions even cause them to burn.
It is a very common practice to pile the mulch up and around the base of the tree, creating what is known as mulch volcanoes. That is very bad practice which doesn’t give the tree adequate space to breathe. Also, by trapping all the moisture at the base of the tree, volcano mulching creates a favorable environment for growth of fungus and bacteria on the tree bark. The recommended method of mulching at the base of the tree is to place it in the shape of a doughnut.
Hurricane mulch is free and that’s why a lot of people gleefully spread it around their plants. However, it can be a great hiding place for weed seed, and harmful contaminants. Use it in your garden and you may just find a lot of exotic plants cropping up in all corners and fighting with your native plants for living space.
So, there you have it…the 8 mulching mistakes most gardeners tend to make in their ignorance. Which ones are you guilty of?
Top image source: landscapemulch.com
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