The health and beauty of the garden do matter to everyone. The health of a person indirectly depends on the health of his garden. As a matter of fact, the right kind of mulch applied at right time in the garden will help maintain and improve your garden. The use of mulch in the garden is a bit different because mulch is required to be replaced after each growing season.
By all means, mulch plays an important role in protecting your garden from different insects, weeds, and the environment if you use the right amount in your garden. Addressing the question “How to use mulch in your garden/garden bed”, In this blog, I have shared the answer to the above questions.
Before getting started, let me share brief info and facts that you should consider before laying mulch in the garden.
Things to Consider Before Laying Mulch in Garden
What Type of Mulch Do You Need for Your Garden?
The first thing to remember, mulch is a dead material that is applied to living things (grass, plants) to provide nutrients and protect the soil. So you have to intentionally select the right vegetable mulch for your garden first.
At the present time, there are many types of mulch available. Mulch is mainly divided into two categories;
- Organic Mulch: It is the best and by far recommended type of mulch as it is organic in nature means it is totally natural and becomes the part of soil after a time duration and gives off its beneficial nutrients to plant roots and enrich your soil. It blocks weeds in your vegetable garden but is not totally efficient for weeds blockage.
- Inorganic Mulch: Inorganic mulch is not naturally or you can say it is not originated from the plant source rather it has other elements in it. It is one of the best mulch to stop weeds due to its blocking and inorganic nature but it doesn’t give any value to the soil.
In the light of our discussion, Here I have listed some organic and inorganic mulches:
|Grass Clippings as Mulch||Organic||Grass clipping can be used as mulch when you want to make your garden look greener, but grass clippings are widely used in lawns instead of gardens due to their rapid decomposing ability.|
|Bark as Mulch||Organic||Wood barks (shredded or chipped) can also be used as mulch, especially in garden beds. They last longer than any other organic mulches and tend to be a suitable choice for people mulching around garden plants.|
|Straw and Hay as Mulch||Organic||Straw or hay mulch is the best mulch for a vegetable garden as it is easy to rake and handle, lasts longer, keeps lower-plant diseases away, facilitates beneficial insects, and makes paths in the garden less muddy so you can easily walk.|
|Pine Needles as Mulch||Organic||Pine needles mulch is known to be used in the garden where evaporation and weed growth in the soil is the problem. But you have to be careful that always use fresh pine needles for mulching purposes and always use this mulch in less acidic soil otherwise this mulch is known for its acidic effects.|
|Shredded Leaves as Mulch||Organic||Leaves can be used as mulch. Shredded leaves are the best choices for woodland. Leaves would not be always a good choice for gardeners as they attract insects. But if you have not planted anything in the garden yet then you can spread leaves in the garden in the fall they will fertilize your soil in the winter.|
|Newspaper or Cardboard as Mulch||Organic||Newspapers are the best solution for the soil where you need moisture retention and weed control. 6-8 layers of newspaper spread on the soil will keep the weed away and also retain the moisture of the soil. All you need to do is just spread the newspapers on the soil, water it a bit, cover it with another mulch, and you are good to go.|
|Plastic or Landscape Fabric as Mulch||Inorganic||Plastic mulch or landscape fabrics are used in garden tunnels, on slopy lands, and around foundation plantings. They are a great choice in the sense that they don’t need any care, they are cheap and excellent weed supressant. However, one major drawback is that they increase soil temperature during summer and also, and they are detrimental to soil decomposition. However, making holes in the plastic and replacing it before decomposition can prevent your soil and garden loss.|
|Gravel or Stone as Mulch||Inorganic||This mulch is good for Mediterranean herb gardens and rain gardens as it helps in proper drainage and lets soil heat escape for better plant growth.|
So from the above table, you get an idea about what mulches you can use for your garden. If there is a garden bed, vegetable garden, or flower garden, you now have a better idea of which mulch you should select. Even in this regard always go with the best mulch for your garden based on its purpose of use.
After selecting the right type of mulch, now comes the problem of how much you need it.
Amount of Mulch You Need
Estimate how much mulch you’ll need to use in your garden. There’s nothing more aggravating than selecting the mulch you want and realizing that you don’t have enough of it. Usually, a mulch bag is 1m3 which can cover up to 3-inch (7.5 cm) thickness for an area of 12m2. You can use this estimate to calculate the mulch you need for any type of garden or area you have.
When to Use Mulch in Garden
It is another important factor you should know before mulching your garden. Know when is the best time to mulch your garden. It is usually spring and also it depends on a number of factors like soil type, mulch type, climate, and plants you are growing in your garden.
Miscellaneous Ideas Before Mulching in Garden
- Mulch shouldn’t be too thick or too thin. Mulch should be 2 to 3 inches thick when applied. Anything that is thicker than this could harbor pests, but it is also inefficient and unnecessarily expensive.
- By the same token, the thickness of biodegradable mulches should be between at least 5cm (2 inches) and at most 7.5cm (3 inches) in order to be effective.
- Mulches should be applied over moist soil after weeds have been removed, but before the soil becomes frozen.
- To emphasize, planting through mulch sheets is an effective method of establishing new beds.
- Avoid mulch volcano. A mulch volcano occurs when a massive amount of mulch is placed around the stems of garden plants. Not only is this an inefficient use of a resource, but it is also detrimental to the garden’s health.
- Always maintain a mulch layer about 2″ away from the base of vegetable plants. Keep the 2-inch rule in mind: 2″ deep and 2″ apart. In either scenario, you can go up to 4″, but stay within that range for both depth and distance.
How to Mulch a Garden? How to Apply Mulch to Garden?
Here are the complete details on how to apply mulch in the garden:
Note: The procedure given below can be used to lay mulch in the garden bed, flower garden, vegetable garden, or any type of garden.
Tools Required to Use Mulch in Garden
Shovel: If you’ve had mulch scoops delivered to your home, you’ll need a pitchfork or shovel to put your mulch into a wheelbarrow, so you can move it around your garden.
Wheelbarrows: Wheelbarrows are great for moving mulch to different parts of your garden quickly and easily.
Steel garden rake: to break up and spread mulch in the garden, a steel rake is required.
Gloves: Wear them when you spread mulch in the garden.
Steps to Use Mulch in Garden
Following are the steps to use mulch in the garden:
1. Prepare the Bed
First of all, even out the soil surface by raking it with a steel garden rake and eliminating any rocks. Then water these beds properly.
2. Remove the Weeds
Many times people ask “how to mulch a garden to prevent weeds?” Here is a simple most important step to answer this query. Before spreading mulch, make sure to remove all the weeds from the beds. It is necessary for the proper functioning of mulch. Point often overlooked use gloves for this purpose. You can also use a weed killer like Roundup Concentrate Plus to kill weeds.
3. Transport the Mulch
On the negative side, straw bales are huge, heavy, and difficult to transport throughout the garden. If you intend to use straw as mulch, attempt to find a partner who will assist you in transporting the bales to the gardening area. The use of a cart or wheelbarrow to transport the bales is quite convenient and economical. Straw is also unsightly, and the thick stalks can be painful to poke with. When breaking down the bales, it’s a good idea to wear gloves. For eyes, wear some eye protection to protect yourself from the dust.
4. Spread the Mulch
Once the string or wire has been removed, the straw will normally soften and self-divide into “flakes” of various sizes. As an illustration, these are compacted areas of the bale that are considerably easier to handle and spread than the loose sections. Hold a flake of straw in one hand while using the other to pull handfuls of stalks free and scatter them around the bed with your other hand. The more mulch you spread on top of each other, the more effective this mulch will be at suppressing undesired weeds.
5. Maintain Optimum Mulch Thickness
Maintaining optimum mulching thickness is what will be helping your vegetable garden to get better results.
A 2″ to 4″ layer is ideal. Maintain a mulch depth of no more than 4″ and no less than 2″ and you will see a noticeable change in the health of your vegetables and garden. Additionally, you will notice a decrease in the amount of supplemental water required.
here is a simple helping video down below to show you how to mulch a garden:
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I mulch my vegetable garden?
Though it is totally an individual’s choice either to mulch the vegetable garden or not, but I would say yes! You must mulch your vegetable garden as it has more positive impacts than negative as explained below:
- It protects your lawn from weeds
- It protects the moisture of the soil of the garden
- It balances the temperature of the soil
- It prevents your garden from various diseases
- It protects the soil erosion of your garden and improves its structure
- It provides nutrients to your garden
How to use mulch in flower garden?
Using flow mulch is very easy if you follow these steps:
- Clean your soil around the flow plants, if there is weeds or grass you can simply pull them out by hand or with a garden weeding tool.
- Make sure that the roots of any weed or grass is not laying on the soil you just cleaned.
- Now bring in the mulch you want to be spread on the garden bed. You can choose any organic or inorganic mulch as mentioned above for your flower garden.
- Keep in mind when you spread mulch, mulch thickness should be 2-4 inch. Also, don’t lay down mulch around the step of flower plants. At least keep 2 inch distance between stem and mulch.
How to mulch an empty vegetable garden and raised a vegetable garden?
Mulching in vegetable garden saves you from weeds which is a major problem in vegetable gardens. To mulch in the vegetable garden or raised vegetable garden follow these steps below:
Note: The procedure given below is both for adding mulch in the pre-plant garden (Empty Vegetable Garden) and post-plant garden (Raised Vegetable Garden).
- Clean the area you want to mulch, and do hoeing if there is any weed. You can also use a weed spray but be careful that doesn’t affect the roots of vegetables.
- If vegetables are not sown yet, you can also apply pre-emergent weed killer.
- After clearing out your vegetable bed, now spread the mulch, plastic mulch is a good option in case of an un-raised garden if you do it properly, like make holes in so soil can breathe, and water soil regularly so it does not heat up.
- After spreading mulch in between vegetable plants, you are ready to sow your vegetable. If vegetable plants were already there in case of raised vegetable garden, then use a mulch that is easy to add like wood mulch.
How to re-mulch garden bed?
Re-mulching a garden becomes necessary when your mulch is depleting. Re-mulching is also called laying mulch over old mulch. Laying mulch over old mulch is an easy task if your mulch type is organic and you have already laid in the garden bed. To re-mulch the garden bed, look at the patches where a new mulch layer is needed. You do not need to remove all mulch and replace it with the new one. If the old mulch is totally decomposed like in the case of organic mulch, consider adding a 1-inch layer of new mulch and sheet mulch later. Also, look if there is weed growth, you can spray post-emergent spray on weeds to kill them.
How to mulch garden with straw?
To mulch a garden with straw mulch, follow these steps:
- Clean the soil if there is any weed or grass.
- Make furrows in the garden if you are just starting out.
- Mark the parts where you will be sowing your plants in the garden.
- Now spread straw mulch with the thickness of 2-4 inches.
How to mulch with newspaper in vegetable garden?
To mulch a garden with newspaper, follow these steps:
- Clean out the soil for mulching. There should not be any grass or weeds.
- Spread 3-4 layers of newspaper on the soil. Water the newspaper a bit.
- Then cover the newspaper with another mulch like wood mulch. It will prevent weeds’ growth.
How to sheet mulch a garden?
Sheet mulching a garden is very easy. All you need to do is to make your garden clean and pull out weeds from it and make furrows in it. Then cover all furrows on top with the sheet, also make holes in the sheet so you can plant some veggies in there.
How to use seaweed to mulch your garden?
To use seaweeds as mulch in your garden, follow these simple steps:
- First, pull out all weeds in the garden.
- Bring in seaweeds to spread in the garden. Keep in mind that the seaweed should be only 36 hours old otherwise, it will get slimy and hard to spread.
- When you spread seaweeds in the garden keep in mind to spread with an even thickness of 4-6 inches deep.
- After one week reapply the seaweeds with the same depth, as seaweeds mulch dry and shrink within a week and may not efficiently cover your soil.
- Never mulch around the stem of plants, keep a 2-inch distance at least.
- You can mix seaweed mulch with other mulches like straw mulch.
- Do not use seaweed mulch to cover pathways in the garden because it can promote weed growth after deteriorating. Also, it gets slippery in the rain which is not good for somebody old walking in the garden.
How to keep birds out of garden mulch?
Keeping birds out of garden mulch can be done in many ways some are listed below:
- Use a body-shaped scarecrow dummy to keep away birds in a traditional way.
- Setting up mirrors or silver in a way that it deflects sunlight towards the garden.
- Use Owl, Hawks, and Snake dummy toys, these are something that birds are surely scared of.
- You can also keep some guarding pets like goats or cats to hunt down birds.
- Use a garden spinner to scare birds.
- Use metallic fences to prevent your fruiting plants in the garden.
- Use bird repellent sprays.
- Use a noise maker that runs with the wind.
- Mix garlic and olive oil and spray it in the garden or use chili pepper spray, it repels birds’ entry. However, be sure that you can bear it while walking in the garden.
How to keep cats out of garden mulch?
You can use the following ways to keep cats away from your garden mulch:
- Use chicken wire: These are the best choice to keep cats away from garden mulch.
- Use landscaping rocks on mulch so cats won’t sit there.
- Use pine cones: Cats don’t like bristly texture or uneven texture. So using pine cones will make it irritating for cats to stay on garden mulch due to the rough surfaces.
- You can plant some aromatic plants like rue, lavender, and pennyroyal, Coleus Canina, and lemon thyme. Cats dislike the smell of these plants.
- You can also use a motion-activated sprinkler to keep cats away.
- Noisemaker devices are also a good choice if your garden is away from neighbors so the noise might disturb cats, not people.
- Use scat mats to repel cats in garden mulch. Scat mats are a bit costly.
- Using deterrents also helps to repel the entry of cats.
- In the end, you can build a proper habitat like sandboxes for cats so they might not get in your garden.