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How to Know if Your Mulch is Effective

Mulch is a material used to cover the surface of the soil. They are typically made of wood chips, bark shreds and leaf or grass clippings. In some cases, gardeners use straws and newspapers as mulch. It offers many benefits to plants and soil composition.

Mulch decomposes over time. Depending on the type of mulch you use, it can last between 6 months to 6 years or even more. However short or long they last, they sure impact the growth of plants. While some types of mulch are effective, some may have less upturn on plants.

So, how do you know if the mulch you used is effective?

3 Signs that Say Your Mulch is Effective

1. Enhanced Soil Moisture

The first sign that says “your mulch is effective” is good soil moisture. One of the many benefits you get from using mulch is to ensure that soil moisture is at least maintained if not improved.

After 3 to 6 months, you will notice some changes in the colour and texture of your mulch. This is primarily because of their exposure to extreme weather conditions. And in most cases, the nutrients of the mulch are absorbed by the soil.

If you dig through your mulch layer, you can test the moisture of your soil. A good mulch will render your soil enough moisture despite a warm climate. Some garden experts say that an effective mulch offers a good proportion of carbon and nitrogen in the soil making it efficient for plant growth.

Enhanced Soil Moisture

2. Improved Plant Growth

Speaking of plant growth, the second sign you should look for is whether or not the growth of your plant has improved. This includes vibrant flowers or fruits, green healthy leaves, upright appearance and well-developed roots. In some instances, full bushy growth is better than long leggy plants. 

If your plant possesses all these characteristics, you can be sure that the mulch you used is effective. If your plant does not meet your expectations like its stems have blotches and tend to bow or the leaves are yellowish with white spots on them, it is a sign you need to change the mulch you are using.

Let’s say you used cypress mulch on your plant bed but the plant growth is slow and the leaves tend to fall off. It may be best to change your mulch to pine bark shreds or woodland red mulch.

While cypress mulch is a good adversary to weed growth, they are not the right mulch for plant growth. Cypress mulch tends to absorb the moisture instead of maintaining the water content of the soil, hence, affecting plant growth.

Improved Plant Growth

3. No Weed Growth

The last and clear-cut sign that’s saying your mulch is working great is the absence of weeds. When weeds grow near or around your plant, it is most likely that they take up nutrients from the soil that’s supposed to be for your plant.

So when there is no weed growth on the area covered by mulch, it only means that your choice of mulch is perfect.

No Weed Growth

How about the effectiveness of mulch on trees?

Similarly, an effective mulch offers good moisture soil and no weed growth around the tree trunk. Most of all, the tree should be healthy with plump and healthy fruits, vibrant leaves, intact bark and a well-rounded rooting system.

One of the best ways to ensure that the use of mulch on trees is effective is the consistent increase in stem-calliper growth. It is expected that a tree should grow its diameter by about 3% of its size yearly.

The effectiveness of mulch on trees depends on your mulching techniques. Many garden experts believe that wrong mulching can otherwise harm the health and growth of trees.

Here are some tips to ensure your tree is getting the most out of your mulch:

1. Follow the Doughnut Technique:

Well, just like a doughnut, you have to leave some space in the centre. What you should do is spread the mulch around the base of the tree but do not pile the mulch against the tree trunk. Form a doughnut-like mulch covering around the tree and leave some space, say 8 to 12 cm from the trunk. That way, your tree has some room to breathe and grow.

Follow the Doughnut Technique
Flower garden planted around a tree in a circle gardening

2. Apply a 5 to 8 cm of Mulch Layer:

To maximise the benefits of mulching, make sure to put down a thick layer of mulch around your tree. A pile of 5 to 8 cm of mulch ensures soil moisture preservation, weed control and temperature moderation.

Remember, however, not to over-mulch as it may cause rotting of the root zone.

Apply a 5 to 8 cm of Mulch Layer

3. Choose Wood Chips or Shreds Over Grass Clippings:

Although grass clippings can be a good mulch option, they tend to wither causing an unsightly appearance and a smelly surrounding. If you want to put mulch around your tree, wood chips, shavings or shreds are a better choice.

One perfect type of mulch is the jarrah wood chip mulch since it regulates moisture retention and offers weed suppression. These red-brown timber chips also add good aesthetics to your garden.

Choose Wood Chips or Shreds Over Grass Clippings

Now that you know whether or not your mulch is effective, check your garden and see if it needs some mulching upgrades.

Contact Mazzegas Landscaping Supplies to learn more about mulching!

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