Mulch keeps weeds down and retains moisture. Here are the dos and don'ts

8:02 AM, Jun 25, 2013   |    comments
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Triad --  Mulch is something you may not think much about- but your plants love it! It makes them healthy and look good too. There are many types which range from organic- pine straw and bark to inorganic- lava rock and recycled rubber.

According to Steve Bender, the Grumpy Gardener, here are the reasons why mulch makes plants so happy.

  • It keeps down weeds
  • It cools the soil and conserves soil moisture
  • It controls run-off when there is heavy rain
  • It makes them look nice
  • It adds organic matter to the soil

Bender recommends putting down mulch about 2" deep. Don't add new mulch until the old has decomposed. If you keep adding to it, you will soon have a few inches of mulch. Too much can be a bad thing. Roots need oxygen. Bury them too deeply and that cuts off their oxygen supply. Lack of oxygen prevents beneficial microbes from breaking it down while letting harmful ones thrive.

Never make a mulch volcano. That is when you pile up mulch around your tree or plant. You actually don't want the mulch to touch it at all.  Bender says it can cause the tree to send shallow roots into the mulch instead of the soil. That makes them susceptible to drought, wind and stress.

Have you ever thought about using colored mulch? It comes in colors like red and black. This may not be the best idea. You have no idea what is in that mulch. There are no colored mulch regulations. It is likely ground up pallets or pressure treated wood instead or natural wood. It could also contain pesticides, preservatives and who knows what else? Plus, black absorbs heat. Instead of cooling your plants, you will heat them up.  

The Grumpy Gardener,

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