Mulching techniques for a perfectly balanced garden

Are you frustrated with your garden’s health and appearance? Start a mulching routine. For those who are new to mulching or want to learn more about best practices, we unpack everything you need to know about this great gardening routine. These mulching techniques are sure to get your garden on the right track – so dig in and read on.

boosts your garden’s well-being with mulch

The magic of mulching

What is mulching? To begin, mulch is essentially any layer of material applied on the soil surface (and isn’t limited to traditional mulching materials). It boosts your garden’s well-being and reinforces it in many ways. We cover the basics in our mulching guide and have elaborated a bit further on mulching techniques below.

Why mulch

Mulching, though it is just the act of applying a layer of materials to the soil surface, provides a whole host of positive results.

By adding mulching to your garden routine, you will assist in:

  • Retaining moisture, assisting with keeping plants hydrated
  • Improving the health of your soil
  • Achieving a more fertile growing environment
  • Suppressing weeds from developing
  • Preventing soil erosion in sloping areas
  • Adding an aesthetic appeal – whether around flower beds, paving or general groundcover.

Mulching materials

Reaping the rewards of mulching can be done with a variety of mulch materials, whether organic, processed, permanent or temporary.

straw and hay are excellent mulching materials for a garden

Organic mulch

Over time, these natural elements will break down and are turned into soil by garden helpers like earthworms and other visitors. Examples are:

  • Fruit pips (like peaches)
  • Nutshells (like macadamia nuts)
  • Coconuts
  • Compost – garden trimmings, straw and leaves and grass cuttings
  • Manure
  • Pine needles
  • Straw/hay
  • Peat moss

Grown mulch

Green groundcovers – Simply use the spreading properties of a growing groundcover plant around your garden to achieve the same benefits as mulch.

bark and wood chip are great mulching options

Temporary set-ups

Permanent materials

  • Plastic sheeting – This will require a bit of work at the beginning of your project, but it will help suppress weeds in the long run.

Note: While organic mulch is great for all sorts of reasons, a combination of organic and inorganic mulch is ideal for cold regions in winter.

When to mulch

The first rule to remember about mulching times – it will always depend on the material you are using and the weather conditions. It is recommended not to use gravel in warmer areas where your plants can overheat and encounter damage.

The prime mulching season is mid-to-late spring – this is when the soil warms from the cold winter temperatures.

Straying from this timeframe may affect the outcome of your soil and growth.

If you apply mulch too early – it will slow down the warming process, which is an essential component of the soil.

Alternatively, if mulch is applied too late in the fall – it will insulate the ground and prevent plant dormancy. This throws off its natural hibernation cycle which helps plants survive the cold winter months.

How to mulch

If you are opting for organic varieties of mulch, keep in mind that the materials will need to be replaced, or added to, each year.

Mulching depth guide for:

  • Moisture retention in warm sunny conditions – Layer about 2.5cm of mulch on the soil.
  • Weed control – Add about a 5 to 10cm layer of mulch.
  • Vegetable bed coverage – Apply a 10cm-15cm layer of mulch (this should be applied in the winter).

Mulching steps

  1. First, remove weeds where you wish to plant and mulch.
  2. Then, create an edge to create a distinction between the mulching areas, lawns, trees and flower beds.
  3. Pour the mulch into the area you are filling and then use a rake to smooth and even the layer.
  4. Leave about a 2.5cm space between tree trunks or plants and the mulch.
succulents with stone mulch

Make mulching a priority

For more tips like this article on mulching techniques or optimising your garden output, explore our blog posts. Requiring specialised advice? Contact our gardening team.

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