Laying Down Mulch
Like replacing damaged wiring in old homes, laying down mulch is an essential part in keeping up with home maintenance. There are a few steps to take to make sure you get the most out of your mulch treatment, but once you know how to maintain the area it is not difficult work. The more care you put into laying down a good foundation, the less weeding you will need to do later.
Starting the Prep Work
Before you can mulch, you must plant anything you want included in your flowerbed. Pull out any weeds that may already be growing in the area. If you are ok with using weed killer in your garden, spray a layer in this area according to the instructions for the brand you are using as a preventative measure. Also rake any extra debris such as dry leaves or old mulch out of the flowerbed.
Now you are ready to lay down your ground layer, commonly known as a weed block textile. Make sure you use a fabric sheet instead of a plastic one because plastic layers prevent the soil from draining and your bed will become oversaturated. These are readily available at home improvement stores during gardening season. Unroll your textile and cut it to the shape of the bed and gently lay it in place, cutting a hole for each plant as you go. Remember, the tighter the holes, the less chance there is to weed later.
Once you have the weed block textile in place, make sure it is laying straight with few wrinkles. Tuck the edges underneath the boarder of your bed if you have one. Once this is set firmly in place you can begin to lay down your mulch.
Types of Mulch
There are two types of mulch, organic and inorganic. If you are looking to use organic mulch such as the grass clippings from your lawn mower to make the soil in your garden richer then you will want to skip laying down a weed block textile so as much of the nutrients from the product can enter the soil as possible.
One of the most common types of organic mulch is wood chips. These help prevent weeds from growing. These, like any type of organic mulch will break down over time and will need to be replaced. A large woodchip or other organic substance will typically use the nitrogen in the soil to break down, so you will need to add nitrogen enriched soil to your bed each season to prevent it from becoming depleted.
Inorganic mulch typically involves laying down some type of rock or gravel. This will also provide some weed control without the worry about having to replace it as often because it will not decompose. As part of a recycling initiative, many home improvement stores are now offering ground rubber tires but there are not yet results on how effective this product is as it is too new. With any type of inorganic mulch, make sure you ask a specialist how the material will affect the plants in the area and which is the most environmentally sound for your climate.
When laying down mulch make sure you do not put down too much. It is typically recommended that you layer about two inches of material, but use less if you have very short plants. Do not layer the mulch so high that is touching the leaves or climbing up the stems of your plants. If necessary leave some space between your mulch and the base of the plants so they have plenty of room to grow.