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Learning More about Mulching

The mulching procedure is applying mulches (straw, wood chips, leaves and grass clippings) to the bare soil around plants and the resulting effect is that it has provided the garden a neat and tidy appearance, as well as reducing the amount of time spent on watering and weeding in the garden. You can either use mulches on a bare soil or to cover the compost surface in flowering or plant containers.

Knowing that plants need constant moisture for proper growth, the moisture retention can be achieved by mulching, which makes use of mulches to absorb the water. With mulches covering the soil, these absorb water, coming from rainfall and irrigation, and slow down the evaporation of moisture from the soil. With improved water retention, the need for frequent irrigation is reduced and, therefore, plant watering can be spaced out longer so that water consumption is reduced. A mulch layer also slows erosion by preventing water from washing soil out of the garden.

Mulching has helped control the soil temperature in the sense that the mulches act as insulating layer to the soil and, therefore, almost maintaining the temperature of the ground. During fall and winter when the temperature has dropped, the layer of mulch helps the soil to retain heat and the warm soil helps the plants to grow longer during those seasons, while protecting, at the same time, the roots from the harsh winter temperatures.
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The layer of mulch prevents sunlight from reaching into the germinating weeds from the soil to grow and this in effect allows mulching to suppress the growth of unwanted weed in the plant beds and in the garden. Even if the weed seeds grow on top of the mulch layer, they aren’t able to root deeply into the soil, making it almost impossible for them to grow.
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Organic mulch, like wood chips or leaves, when they decomposed are good source of added soil nutrients, which result into more food for the plants and organisms existing in the plant area which is covered by mulch. The decomposed mulch also improve the structure of the soil by adding space between the particles in the soil, such that the added space allows the roots to receive water, oxygen, and nutrients because the soil is not hard nor compact.

While garden beds and borders can be entirely be covered with mulches, care must also be observed for low growing plants and against the stems of woody plants. The ideal way of applying mulch follows this procedure: first remove the weeds including the roots, moisten the soil, and apply the layer of mulch with a thickness between 5 cm and 7.5 cm.