Some people mulch garden beds each spring and fall to give their outdoor landscape a professional appearance. But mulching your garden offers many benefits beyond the cosmetic. Adding mulch to flower beds helps to protect delicate garden plants, deter weed growth and enrich the soil, resulting in a more successful blooming season next spring and summer.
The primary reason gardeners mulch garden beds is to keep weeds under control. Mulch helps to deter weed growth, blocking sunlight from reaching and germinating weed seeds. Mulch also helps conserve moisture. During the growing season, mulched flower beds help to retain moisture and prevent it from evaporating. Mulching your flower beds ensures that your prized Petunias (Petunia) and beautiful Armeria (Armeria), also called Thrift, will be better able to withstand the occasional lack of summer rainfall or a missed watering or two when you’re on vacation.
Numerous varieties of garden mulch are available from cedar chips to leaf litter to crushed stone to recycled tire chips. Gardeners who spread organic cedar or hardwood mulch on their garden beds gain a powerful hidden benefit. Over the course of a year or two, wood mulch deteriorates, slowly breaking down, enriching the soil in the process. This results in a richer growing environment for your plants.
Old mulch should be removed from garden beds before new mulch is applied. For optimal garden benefit, wood mulch should be applied at a maximum depth of 2 to 4 inches. If mulch is applied too deeply, it can smother delicate plant roots. Be careful to keep mulch 3 to 6 inches away from building foundations to deter insects from invading your home. Mulch should also be placed 3 to 6 inches away from the bases of trees and shrubs to avoid smothering roots. Never stack mulch, grass clippings or leaves up the trunk of a tree as this can cause roots to overheat, damaging the tree.