Many people don’t understand how mulch can impact the health of your garden. Mulch is important to the health of your plants as it helps to retain the moisture in the soil and cut down on the number of weeds you have around your plants.
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How Much Mulch Should You Use?
To determine how much mulch, you need to take the length and width of your garden and then multiply this by the height of the mulch which is going to be about 3 inches. This will give you the total cubic feet that you need for your mulch. Since mulch is sold by the bag you need to divide the total cubic feet by the number of cubic feet of mulch in the bag.
- If the mulch is sold by the yard, you’ll divide the total cubic feet by 27 since there are 27 cubic feet in one cubic yard.
There are online calculators you can use to help you figure out the amount you need and even calculators for your mobile devices. Use these if you can’t figure out the exact amount to sue or ask at your local garden center.
Spreading Your Mulch
Try to spread around three inches of mulch on the ground. As you do this a few times the mulch will build up so if you already have a lot of it on the ground use about 1 inch of new mulch. You can also remove the old mulch if you want and start again fresh.
If there’s too much mulch on the ground this can trap too much moisture and rot can set in as not enough water will reach the roots of the plants.
Don’t pile the mulch near trunks of trees or shrubs as this can cause insect, fungus, and rot problems. You should spread the mulch by hand as you can control how it looks. A shovel can help you move mulch from a wheelbarrow to the garden area. (Amazon link to a GREAT shovel)
Benefits of Mulch
- Mulch inhibits the growth of weeds
- Helps keep moisture in the soil so plants don’t dry out as quickly
- Helps prevent fluctuations in the soil temperature
- Protects roots from the cold in areas where frost can be a problem
- Keeps roots cool in hotter areas
- Can provide some nutrition to plants as the mulch breaks down
- Rubber or tire mulch can damage the soil by leeching chemicals into it
- Cocoa mulch can be dangerous to pets, especially dogs
- Too much mulch can damage trees and plants. Rot can set in as well as diseases
- Mulch can present a fire danger if it dries out too much in the hot sun
What Mulch Not To Use
- Wood – Some wood mulch can contain chemicals and dyes
- Rubber or Tire Mulch – This mulch can contaminate the soil with chemicals
- Decaying Leaves – Perfect breeding ground for weeds and seeds can germinate creating more weeds
Root Rot is exactly what it sounds like. It’s what happens when a plant has been overwatered to the point that the roots are not getting enough oxygen, causing decay of the roots and most often killing the tree. Once the process starts, there’s usually nothing that can be done, which means the only way to beat it is to know how to avoid it.
Overwatering (especially in an indoor plant) can cause the roots to not get enough oxygen which will choke them off and start the rotting process. This is also a big problem when growing with hydroponics. This is why you should always have an aerator, much like a fish tank.
When mulching trees outdoors, you always need to remember to not put more than 2 inches of mulch on a tree that hasn’t developed a strong root system yet. For a tree that is well-developed, 3-4 inches is okay.