Promoting Plant Health With Mulch
Mulch, sometimes called “top dressing,” is a protective layer that can be composed of organic or inorganic material, which is placed around the base of plants to promote healthy growth and protect plants from harsh weather conditions. It comes in a variety of textures and compositions, including bark chips and rocks. Mulch can be found at most garden, landscape, and home improvement stores. The application of mulch improves drainage and root development, and increases soil nutrients. Mulch also insulates soil and plants, preventing frost damage in the winter and excessive evaporation in the summer.
How to Apply Mulch:
- In the early spring, hand-spread a 1-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of each plant. Don’t pack it into place – use just enough to block sunlight and prevent weed growth.
- Do not place mulch in direct contact with plants – there should be a 2-3 inch gap between the base of the plant and the mulch. This will help prevent disease.
- After spreading the mulch, water it down to moisten it and help it settle.
- The mulch’s color will begin to fade after a period of time – when this happens, rake it to expose unfaded organic surfaces.
- When there is only a thin layer of mulch left, repeat the process.
Mulch will decompose over time, which enriches the soil with nutrients. By replenishing it, you are regularly improving the soil, as well as saving water and preventing weeds.
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