How to Prepare Beds for Mulch

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A good way to know if you have successfully solidified yourself as a true homeowner is if you get that deep and primal urge to do some mulching. It happens but once or twice a year and should be memorialized and treated like any other holiday. In this article we’ll look at the benefits of mulching, and we’ll also give detailed steps as to how to fulfill this primal mulching urge if it’s your first time.

Benefits of Mulching—Why Do it in the First Place?

  1. The most observable benefit of mulching—and perhaps the thing that drives this primal urge—is that it makes our yards look utterly sexy.
  2. Perhaps an equally as sexy reason is that mulching provides beneficial nutrients to your plants and trees. Over time, after mulch is spread, it will begin to break down and decompose, thereby feeding the soil with yummy nutrients.
  3. If your disdain for weeding runs deep, then there is no reason why mulching shouldn’t be your BFF. Mulching prevents and inhibits weed growth, and if weeds do happen to sprout, they’re normally much easier to remove, as their roots are less stable in mulch than in the solid earth.
  4. Mulch will keep soil at a nice temperature. In warmer months, mulch provides a bit of shade for your soil; in the cooler months it acts like a blanket that traps heat, thereby regulating soil temperature.
  5. Organic mulch attracts beneficial critters that will further increase soil fertility. Things like bacteria and worms will chomp up mulch and leave nutrients that acts like fertilizer in their wake.
  6. Mulch prevents soil erosion. This protective “blanket” over your soil will protect it from winds and rain that can threaten to wash the soil away.

How to Prepare Beds for Mulch

  1. First, order your mulch! You can get mulch at a local hardware store, or, if you have a large area, consider having a supplier drop some off at your house. Confused as to what kind you should order? Check out this helpful guide here, or, alternatively, ask your supplier for recommendations.
  2. Next, make sure your mulching area is free of weeds.
  3. Once your area is free of weeds, use a garden weasel to loosen up the soil. This will allow those beneficial nutrients from the mulch to penetrate.
  4. If your mulching area has already-established plants, you’re free to mulch to your little heart’s content! But before you do, here’s a couple things to keep in mind—sourced from an incredibly wholesome mulching YouTube video:
    1. Only apply 2-3 inches of mulch. Applying more can negate some of the above-mentioned benefits.
    1. Leave a space between the edge of the mulch and the base of your plant or tree.
      1. For trees, leave 6-12 inches; for plants a few inches is fine. Mulch retains water well and if it’s next to the tree, it can cause rot. Also, mulch directly in contact with plants and trees can more easily transfer disease and pests.
  5. If you’re so inclined, add edging around your mulch beds. This is optional, but it’ll give your beds a nice clean aesthetic.
  6. Water your newly mulched beds and enjoy!

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