Much Ado About Mulching

Sheet mulch with newspaper and wood chips to kill a lawn

What, you may ask, is this fabulous mulch of which I speak?  Broadly speaking, its a layer of material placed over soil.  My preferred mulch is made from chipped or shredded bark and wood. It can be also be gravel, lawn clippings, shredded leaves, black plastic, carpet scraps, cardboard, etc.

Oh, thick layer of wood chip mulch, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways . . . .

  1. Weed eradication.  Prior to installing new gardens, I often use sheet mulching to kill existing weeds.  This simple method works by blocking sunlight to prevent germination of weed seeds, by starving existing weeds by preventing them from reaching sunlight, and by creating an environment that encourages growth of beneficial microbes to speed decomposition of weeds.
  2. Weed prevention.  A nice, 4″ to 6″ thick layer of wood chips placed over bare dirt will greatly reduce weed growth in established and new gardens.
  3. Water conservation.  Mulch reduces evaporation; your plants will be happy with less irrigation.
  4. Soil improvement.  Organic mulches break down into compost, replenishing the soil with nutrients and organic material.
  5. Soil protection.  Mulches reduce damage to soil structure caused by compaction and erosion.
  6. Reduced soil temperatures.  A thick layer of mulch shades soil from the sun, keeping temperatures lower in the root zone of plants.
  7. A finished look.  A newly planted garden just looks neater with an even layer of mulch.
  8. Practically free!  Many arborists will deliver their excess wood chips for a small fee.
  9. Easy to place.  Organic mulch is light and easy to rake.
  10. It’s easy to figure out how much you need.  Just measure the area you want to cover in square feet, multiply by .33 and divide by 27.  That will give you the amount you need in cubic yards.

So much to love about mulch!  Get some for your garden today!

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