Mulching is a very important practice in gardening because it helps retain water while suppressing weed growth but too little or too much of it has negative effects on your plant. Too much mulch can hold excess water thereby causing a waterlog which has negative effects on plants. Too little mulch isn't effective at stopping weed growth so, in this article, we would look at the recommended depth for mulching.
Why Use Mulch?
Most people may ask, “why us mulch?”. How does mulch benefit my garden? Well below are the reasons why you should use mulch for your backyard.
It slows down water evaporation from the garden soil, so you don’t have to stress yourself watering often.
It hinders soil compaction when it rains. Uncompacted, loose soil yields a healthy growing plant.
It helps insulate your garden soil against extreme temperatures. This way, shallow-rooted plants in cold and coddle crops in the heat are protected.
It hinders microorganisms which can cause harm to plants from splashing from the soil to the plant leaves. In simple terms, it prevents the spread of crop diseases.
It helps manage erosion by slowing rainwater that runs through the soil. Less water running means plant beds are soaking up more water.
It suppresses weed and makes it easier to remove if any sprouts.
It gives your flower bed a polished look for enhancing the environment and its design.
Types of Mulch
There are two types of mulch every gardener should know about. They are called organic and inorganic mulch.
These types of mulch are often permanent and they don’t degrade any time soon. These may include rubber, stones, geotextile, and weed fabric. They are not environmentally-friendly and they are not as versatile as the organic type of mulch which would pose a great benefit to your garden at large.
These include organic components like grass clippings, pine straw, compost, and shredded bark. Organic mulch breaks down over time to add organic components to your flower bed to improve its condition. Most of these materials may include:
- Pine or Wheat Straw – These are known to be an easy solution in various situations. Wheat straw, the plant that contains seeds that would germinate in your well-tendered soil is very good for your plant soil. It is most suitable in a vegetable garden. You can place these materials over an old layer of newspaper to suppress the weed further.
- Shredded Bark – Also known as pine bark or Hardwood, this is a popular choice amongst most gardeners. You can purchase this material by the bags at your nurseries, home stores, or garden stores. You can also get it from your public or local suppliers staying around. These materials are larger and they take time to decompose completely. You may also need a dump cart for a lawn tractor to transport bags around the site.
- Grass Clippings or Shredded Leaves – If by any chance your garden landscape has lawn areas and trees, grass clippings or shredded leaves are the best options you can go for. They are handy, easy to come across, and very much affordable.
How deep should mulch be?
The depth of how deep a mulch should span from less than an inch to about 4 inches deep. This depends entirely on the type of material you want to use. Generally, professionals recommend that users should use a minimum of about 3 inches on a garden bed. Materials like wood chippings should be topped an extra inch due to the fact that it would reduce in volume after some period of time. For grass clippings, use as little as 1 inch and when using straw/hay, it should be from 4 – 6 inches deep due to the fact that the material is easily compacted.
When to Add More Mulch?
Due to the time factor, organic mulching materials may decompose leaving users with a thin layer of mulch. Most materials may result in settling even if they don't disintegrate into the soil. If you want to add more mulch to your garden bed, start by digging down to find out the thickness of the current mulch on the ground. Next, add enough materials which would cover your bed to get the same recommended thickness or depth.