Mulch your way to prettier, healthier plantings. Learn which type of mulch to use, when to use it and where to use it.
By Julie A. MartensMore in Outdoors
One of gardening’s secret weapons is mulch. It’s not a glamorous starlet that steals the spotlight, but its performance can make or break a landscape design. Whether you’re grooming a fabulous front yard or raising your family’s favorite veggies in the backyard, mulch can make each planting area healthy, earth-friendly and beautiful.
How does mulch benefit the landscape?
Mulch falls into two general categories: organic and inorganic. Both types contribute good looks to a garden design.
Step 1: Thickness
Apply a 2- to 3-inch-thick mulch layer. If you’re gardening in slow-draining soil, use a thinner layer (1 to 2 inches); for fast-draining soils like sand, aim for 4 inches. A too-thick layer can lead to plant rot, diseases, pests and rodents.
Step 2: Placement
Extend mulch beyond the plant’s drip line — the point where the outermost edge of leaves occurs. To prevent rot, pull mulch back 2 to 4 inches from perennial crowns, shrub stems and tree trunks.
Step 3: Water
Water mulch after application. This keeps dry mulch from absorbing soil moisture (and stealing it from plant roots). Second, it helps anchor lightweight mulches easily carried by wind.