16 May 2012

A Newby’s Guide to Mulching

Posted by bcsands

Learning about mulching need not be done by trial and error, these days there is a lot of information available, and the purpose of this beginners guide is to help you know exactly what mulch to use where and when as well as how to apply it. So if beginner status applies to you, read on…

 

Common Mulches

Mulch is an organic ground covering for trees, shrubs and garden beds that can be made up of a number of plant materials.  At BC Sands, we have over ten mulches, each with slightly different properties. Some of the most popular are:

  • PINE BARK- This is the most common mulch used in gardens because it lasts, it is fairly uniform in colour and it is a renewable product.
  • CYPRESS  – This mulch can safely be spread around a wood or fibro home or fence because it discourages termites.
  • EUCALYPTUS – Perfect for native gardens, this renewable resource does not creep down from steep slopes, and will help establish your new plants during hot weather.
  • PORT STEPHENS MULCH – An attractive garden mulch, excellent near fences and around garden beds situated near walls, because it does not stain. Excellent for low maintenance gardens.
  • RED WOOD CHIP – Long lasting, and the quickest way to give your garden a dramatic makeover

 

 

Where Should Mulch be Applied?

Mulch looks good, retains moisture, slows weed growth, and organic mulches eventually breakdown and add to the structure of your soil. Garden beds are generally the main repositories for mulch, but there are other places you can use it too:

  • Most pot plants can benefit from mulching.
  • Mulch around trees and shrubs helps reduce the need to water.
  • Strawberries, melons and other low growing fruits stay clean, easy to see and pick with a layer of mulch under the plants.
  • Roof-top and apartment gardens need mulch because the soil in planters can get too hot or cold for the plants they hold.

 

Time to Mulch

You can apply mulch at any time and here are the advantages for each season:

  • SPRING – spread nutrients around the plants before covering the ground with mulch. Slow release fertiliser allows the plant to be nourished throughout the growing season.
  • SUMMER – Bark based mulches are attractive to look at and allow wilting annuals to retain more of their moisture in the hot weather, saving you time and money.
  • AUTUMN – mulching as a preparation for winter is a prudent way to save young plants from being affected by cold conditions.
  • WINTER – Particularly if you live away from the coast, applying a thick, insulating layer of straw or sugar cane mulch around the base of your mature bushes, trees and shrubs keeps the roots warmer.

 

How to Apply Mulch

It’s worth mentioning the Number one Rule of Mulching – Don’t pile it too closely around the roots of established plants and trees. Mulch may be a protector of plant life, but it can become a killer if applied too thickly, or if it is butted up right against the bottom of a stem or trunk.

Enjoy the garden for months to come, safe in the knowledge that you’ve done your bit to protect our water resources as well as giving those life-affirming earth-worms something to work with for a few months.



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