Tip #1 for a tidy garden!
TIP #1 : Mulch Refreshing
This one is first on my list because I think it is one of the most important and useful maintenance methods. It’s best to refresh your mulch every year but if you lay down a thick layer of 2-3 inches you can often do it every 2-3 years. The new mulch will look fresh and clean and the older mulch will break down to add more organic matter to your soil. Mulch also serves several important, practical purposes:
1) Mulch conserves moisture! Mulch covers and protects your soil from the hot sun and drying wind. It helps keep the soil cool and moist – which is just how you plants like it!
2) Mulch prevents weeds! This one is huge. Laying down a thick layer of mulch (at least 2-3 inches deep) creates a barrier between the soil and the open air. This saves you a ton of weeding! First, this makes it hard for weed seeds already in the soil to grow up into the sunlight and if they do they are weak and tired so they’re easy to pull. Second, any new weed seeds that come to your garden on the wind can’t reach the cool, moist soil below to germinate. And, again, if they do germinate they are typically weak and unhealthy so they’re easy to remove.
On a side note: I should also say that I prefer to use mulch without landscape fabric. Landscape fabric will eventually fail as a barrier to weeds – it rots and tears with age and soil will eventually build up on top of it anyway. The problem is that even though it stops being an effective barrier fairly quickly it will take a long time to break down completely. So, every time you want to add a new plant or move a few things around in your garden you have to cut through that fabric (this can as much as triple the time spent transplanting). Worse, more often than not when we come across landscape fabric it has been installed incorrectly. Sometimes we’ll find 4 or 5 layers of landscape fabric on top of each other so we can hardly reach the soil at all. And I haven’t even mentioned the problems it causes as a barrier for water and air exchange in the soil or how mulch will slide off fabric laid down on sloping spots. Do yourself and any future gardeners a favor and don’t use it!
3) Mulch looks nice and neat! It provides a nice color background for your garden plants. I prefer to use un-dyed mulches like Western Red Cedar, cedar chips, pine bark nuggets, or hardwood mulch. But you can choose dyed mulches in red, orange, cocoa brown, and black. Of the dyed mulches I prefer the cocoa brown because the other colors tend to bleach to weird colors in the sun and look old before the end of the season.
Psst! Looking for Container Garden Maintenance tips? Try this article.