So, you've read part 1, decided on which kind of mulch to use, and are ready to lay your mulch into its new home? Great! The following five tips can help you make the most of that new garden addition:
1. Laying mulch down about 5 inches deep usually discourage weeds completely. Or, if your garden is very shaded, then only 2 inches of mulch will do just fine.
2. Try keeping mulch at least an inch away from your plant stems to avoid rot and fungus problems.
3. If you are using grass clippings, try sun-drying them first for a day or so. It can really make a difference!
4. If you’re using leaves, they’re best when aged for at least nine months, so that growth-inhibiting phenols can be leached out before use.
5. Before applying the mulch to your soil, apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. This is especially important if you’re going to use organic mulch like leaves and wheat straw, as these can rob soil of nitrogen while decomposing.
Mulch should be kept on the soil for the full growth period of your plants, but should be removed once the season is over, as piling new mulch on top of old can cause problems (rot, nutrient deprivation and other unsavoury issues) in the following growing period.
When you are ready to remove the mulch, although a small rake is the usual tool of choice, we recommend using your hands when possible. Your hands make it easier to be gentle around the stems of your plants, whereas it is easy to accidentally hit or damage a plant when using a metal gardening tool.
To keep things simple, i recommend collecting your old mulch into little piles and then scooping it up before disposing of it appropriately.
Whether adding mulch or removing it, taking your time to do things well will reap huge rewards in the long-run. Happy mulching!