The process of improving the soil around plants using mulches, such as straw, wood chips, leaves and grass clippings, is referred to as mulching and through this procedure, it has also provided a neat and tidy appearance of a garden, as well as reducing the amount of time that can be spent on watering and weeding the garden. Applying mulches on bare soil is a common procedure, but they can also be used to cover the surface of compost in flowering and plant containers.
Since plants need constant watering for proper growth, retaining the water can be attained by using the process of mulching, which uses mulches to absorb the water. Mulches help both in the absorption of water from rainfall and irrigation and the slowing down of evaporation of moisture from the soil. With improved water retention, the need for frequent irrigation is reduced and, therefore, plant watering can be spaced out longer so that water consumption is reduced. A mulch layer also slows erosion by preventing water from washing soil out of the garden.
Mulch provides as an insulating layer for the soil, therefore allowing the temperature of the ground to change more slowly, and for this reason, mulch is usually applied in the spring or early summer. The fall and winter cold temperature allows the layer of mulch to retain the heat in the soil, such that the warm soil provides longer growth for the plants, as well as protecting the roots from the harsh winter temperatures.
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The effect of mulching also has the advantage of suppressing the growth of unwanted weed in the plant beds and in the garden, because the layer of mulch prevents sunlight from reaching into the germinating weeds from the soil to grow. On the other hand, when weed seeds land on top of the mulch, they aren’t able to root themselves deeply into the soil, making it impossible for them to continue growing.
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Using organic mulch materials, like wood chips or leaves, can help enrich the soil, since mulch break down over time and the decomposed mulch adds the nutrients to the soil in order to feed the plants and organisms that are existing in the plant area which are covered with mulch. With the decomposition of the mulch, it has further improved the soil structure in such a way that it added space between the particles of the soil, resulting into allowing water, oxygen, and nutrients to reach the plant roots, since the soil is not hard nor compact.
While garden beds and borders can be entirely be covered with mulches, care must also be observed for low growing plants and against the stems of woody plants. The following procedure is the ideal way of applying mulches: first remove the weeds including the roots, moisten the soil, and apply the layer of mulch with a thickness between 5 cm and 7.5 cm.