In Florida’s hot and humid climate, your garden soil can quickly dry out and garden plants could die. Once plants start growing well in your garden, you should consider mulching. It may appear to be a difficult lawn care task if you’ve never done it before, but it’s actually a very simple project you can do yourself.
In this article, you’ll learn what mulching is, and why mulching is important for your yard and soil.
What is Mulching?
Mulching is the process of applying a loose layer of shredded plant material to the surface of your garden soil. Mulching is done for the following reasons:
To retain moisture by preventing water evaporation, especially in summer. Garden soil unprotected by mulch can dry easily. The mulch acts as a blanket and traps the moisture in the ground.
To keep the soil temperature cooler. Mulch acts like a roof protecting your garden soil from the direct heat of the sun.
To suppress the weed growth. Mulch works to keep weeds at bay in a variety of ways. New weed seeds require dirt to thrive, and a heavy layer of mulch keeps them from ever reaching the soil. Mulch also prevents one of a plant’s most important needs, sunlight, for seeds or roots already in the soil. Weeds will try to push their way through the soil, but if your mulch layer is thick enough, weed growth will be suppressed.
For decorative purposes. Mulch can improve the aesthetic value of your lawn. Choose a colored mulch that complements the brick, stone, stucco, and siding hues on the outside of your house. Mulch can also be used to improve the theme and setting of your landscape.
What Materials Can Be Used in Mulching?
Compost can be used as mulch at any time of year by spreading it over the surface. It can add fertility to the soil while also warming it slightly. The downside to using compost is that it can be expensive.
Weed seeds can be extremely harmful to gardens. Using hay as mulch is an excellent tool for weed control. When dried and baled, grass hay can also be a nutrient-dense source of fodder for livestock or garden use. Before or after mulching, consider solarizing the bales.
Straw is created when a grain stalk is harvested and baled. Straw is lighter and easier to move than hay, and it contains fewer weed seeds in general. Straw is also a good source of carbon, and helps keep the soil cool in the summer.
Straw can keep the soil cool enough for planting in the spring, and the seeds from its grains can turn into weeds for you. Also, keep in mind that broadleaf herbicides are sprayed in fields by farmers to get cleaner straws.
4. Wood chips
Wood chips from fallen branches and old trees are good weed suppressants because they’re light and portable. However, they also temporarily absorb nitrogen that your plants require wherever they come into contact, so we recommend keeping them confined to the path or around perennials; wood chips make for excellent garden paths.
5. Peat moss
Peat is relatively inexpensive and light, making it simple to transport and spread. However, the peat moss’ long-term viability has been questioned. Because it’s an acidic substance, you may need to combine it with an alkaline substance. If you plan to use large amounts of it, you better talk to a soil expert first.
6. Leaves and perennials
Leaves can be used as a nutrient-dense ground cover. They’re also one of the cheapest mulch materials at zero dollars. Leaves are easy to spread and obtain, and they contain a lot of the organic matter that worms prefer.
Perennials can struggle to break through heavy mats of leaves. They’re good for weeds, but they’re not good for garlic or bulb flowers.
Surprisingly, cardboard can make a good garden mulch. Large sheets can cover a large area quickly. It can be difficult to weigh the cardboard down, and removing all of the tapes can be difficult. Avoid using cardboards with glossy finishes.
Laying Down Mulch
Spreading mulch is best done twice a year. Throughout the spring and summer, mulching will give your landscaping a fresh, clean look.
Mulching is advantageous during the spring because seasonal rains aid in the breakdown of organic materials in mulch, allowing it to penetrate the soil. It is also beneficial to your plants during the fall because it provides an extra layer of insulation during the colder months.
When mulching a yard, there are several factors to consider when determining the appropriate mulch depth: what you’re mulching and the mulch’s texture. A few inches of fine mulch can suffice when mulching a flower bed. For coarse mulch, try a three-to-four-inch layer. If you’re just beautifying the areas of your yard, you can use a thicker layer to control weeds better.
You’ve just read about mulching, what it does for your yard, what materials you can use for mulching, and when it’s best to spread mulch on your soil. For lawn owners who like doing things by themselves, hopefully these bits of knowledge help you better maintain your lawn.
It can be challenging to maintain a healthy and weed-free lawn all year long, but you don’t have to do it alone. You also have the choice to call for help from lawn care professionals, like Superior Yard, who are willing to do it for you.
Superior Yard is your full-service lawn care company in Bradenton. Whether you’re in the area or out-of-town, you can rely on us to care for your property like it’s ours. Send us a message and one of our lawn experts will assist you.