Mulch is a standard gardening item, laid around plants to suppress weed growth, increase or decrease soil temperature depending on the season, and used to keep soil around plants loose. Organic varieties of mulch include leaves, grass clippings, alfalfa hay, straw, bark and wood chips, sawdust, and compost. Organic mulch also serves to add nutrients to the soil as it breaks down. Non-organic varieties of mulch include black plastic, landscape fabric and rubber shreds. When laying mulch, remember that more is not necessarily better. Laying too thick a layer of mulch will smother the plants and potentially cause stem rot.
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Things you need
- Bucket or wheelbarrow
- Small hand shovel
Weed the soil around the plants you'll be mulching before laying any mulch. Although mulch is intended to be a weed killer, any healthy weed growth covered by a thin layer of mulch may persevere and cause problems later.
Water the soil around the plants you'll be mulching after they've been thoroughly weeded.
Collect the mulch you'll be using in a bucket or wheelbarrow, depending on how much you'll be using. Transport this mulch to your work area.
Shovel mulch around the bases of the plants with a small hand shovel. Leave a space of 1 to 2 inches clear around the base of the plants. Mulch retains moisture, which can cause stem rot if the mulch is directly up against the plants. Additionally, you'll want to keep the pests that mulch attracts away from the shelter of the plant you're trying to nourish. For trees, a much larger 3- to 6-foot ring of space should surround the trunk. The layer of mulch should never be more than 4 inches deep. Aim for a roughly 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch.
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