Mulch is a material spread on top of the ground to benefit soil and plant health, and make landscape maintenance easier. Wood chips, leaves, grass clippings, wood shavings, and compost all make good mulches.
- Prevents soil compaction and erosion
- Suppresses weeds
- Captures and retains soil moisture
- Protects roots from the sun’s heat
- Protects plant crowns from winter cold
- Protects and stimulates microbial activity in the soil
- Adds nutrients to the soil as they break down
Make the Best Use of Mulch Covers
- Mulch all areas that are not in grass or thick ground cover.
- Trees and shrubs benefit from mulch spread at least as far as their outermost branches (the “dripline”). To prevent diseases and pest infestation, avoid piling mulch against tree trunks.
- Use a layer of coarse mulch 3 or more inches in depth for weed control.
- When converting grassy areas to mulch, smother the grass with a thick layer of cardboard or newspapers rather than kill it with chemicals. Some hardy grasses much be rooted out for successful removal.
- Blanket perennials with several inches of shredded leaves or whole pine needles to protect then from winter cold.
- Use long-lasting mulches (wood chips, shavings, evergreen needles) for trees and shrubs.
- Spread mulches under annuals after they are well established (4 to 6 inches tall).
- Water the ground thoroughly before and after applying a mulch cover.
- Never rely on a rainstorm to water in your mulches. In many cases, the rain will fall too heavily and quickly, and a fair amount of your mulch may run off into the storm drain and local creeks.
- Never mulch with diseased or insect-infested yard trimmings.