Many people under estimate the value of mulch, simply using just enough to get some color or to barely covering the dirt. Others have resorted to using rubber mulch because it lasts a long time and is colorful. Both of these practices do more harm than good for your plants.

Mulch done correctly has many attributes. Besides giving a good clean look to your garden it can keep the weeds from popping up. It’s also very beneficial in retaining moisture, keeping the soil and roots cooler in the summer and insulates in the winter. At the end of the year, winter, there is conversation of what to do with the old mulch. Whether to remove it and replace it with fresh or to leave the mulch and either work it into the top coat of soil or simply cover it with a fresh layer. I am in the second camp. Like discussed in the soil article, with our sandy soil we have to constantly be adding organics. The composted mulch perfectly helps us do this on an annual basis.

I like to use pine straw in large areas and pine bark mulch in smaller ones, like ones used for bedding plants. I use the mulch instead of the nuggets because they form a thicker ground cover and they work down into the ground much easier and faster to improve the soil. I put the straw down about four inches deep to be effective because it compacts. Plus if you put it down good and thick it will last the entire year. When using the pine bark mulch, a couple of inches are sufficient.