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The Basics of Mulch

Mulch is a term that is used in gardening to refer to a layer of protective covering placed on top of the soil to control the climate. Mulch can be made of synthetic or natural materials or a combination of the two to form an extensive layer of covering.

Landscapers, farmers and gardeners make use of mulch for different purposes. They are used to monitor the proliferation of weeds by hindering the, from attaining sunlight and hence decreasing their chance of germinating. It also helps in retaining water in the soil by preventing water loss through evaporation. Additionally, mulch doubles as fertilizer when natural mulch breaks down into organic matter and beneficial plant nutrients. Some mulch materials are used as insect repellants; some of these insects are quite harmful to the plant. Mulch also helps in the growth of plants by reflecting sunlight in the plants upwards hence increasing the process of photosynthesis. In numerous landscapes, mulch has been used as a decorative element.

How to apply mulch in a Landscape
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The following basic guidelines should be followed when installing mulch.
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Ensure that the depth of the mulch is not more than 3-4 inches. When re-mulching, the overall depth should be kept under 4, ” and it is more considerable to use 2-3 inches. It is recommendable that you remove the existing mulch whenever you deem necessary or break it up if it has disintegrated. Too much mulch is worse than having no mulch; when it is in excess, it causes the top root layer to dry up and cause the roots to grow upwards into the mulch.

Ensure that the mulch is pulled back several inches to create a free space around the stem. Too much mulch around the stem of the plant may cause decay, and it invites disease and insect damage.

Always use caution when using processed sewage sludge. Processed sewage sludge is rich in nitrogen and is capable of causing excessive plant growth and can even burn them. Processed sewage sludge is used in soil amendment but limited quantities.

There are many materials that are used in making mulch. Of the most used mulch materials are ground-up hardwood, bark mulch, and dyed mulches. It is also possible to make mulch from plastic so as to protect the soil and maintain its consistency. Rock and gravel are also a suitable mulch material; they are mostly used to retain heat in cold areas and during the cold seasons. Pine needles are most suitable mulch material as they are used to adjust the temperatures of the soil, by keeping it warm during the cold season, and cool during the summer.

Mulch is applied at the start of each growing season and if necessary additional mulch is used all through the season.