From The Potting Shed

Spring is now showing its hand, the grass is starting to grow, and so are the weeds!

Many people now favour mulching of beds as an alternative to hoeing and weeding

Applying a layer of mulch is one of the best things you can do for your trees, shrubs and bedding plants. Mulching materials can either be organic or inorganic.

Common organic mulches include wood chips, shredded bark, pine needles, shredded leaves, and straw. Lawn clippings are also a choice covering. Inorganic, or commercial mulches, are available in several varieties, colours and price ranges.

Here are a few things to consider prior to applying mulch around trees or in your garden beds:

Once you begin mulching stay with it. Removing a layer of mulch will dry out the soil and potentially injure the roots below.

There are generally two periods for proper mulching. A layer of mulch maintained at two inches thick should be applied to your garden beds in the spring after the ground has thawed. A second mulch application in the autumn after the ground is frozen will further insulate and protect plants.

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Don’t mound mulch around trees. A common mistake, mounding mulch against a tree’s trunk can lead to bark rot, disease, and insect problems. Instead, spread the mulch so it extends a couple of inches from the base of the tree in a layer approximately three to four inches deep. Make sure it’s higher at outside edges.

Avoid over applying mulch.

Use woody or bark mulches in areas where you won’t be doing a lot digging, e.g., around trees and in flower beds. Lighter mulch material such as straw, which is easily worked into the soil, is better suited for vegetable gardens where replanting may be common place. The application of mulch certainly adds a completed look to your landscape.

However, its greater value is in the benefits it offers to the hidden roots it covers.