Fall Mulch Gives Your Lawn and Garden a Winter Blanket.
With the cold winter temperatures starting to close in, one of the easiest and cheapest ways to keep your lawn and garden healthy is by mulching. Applying mulch in the next few weeks will cut down on water loss in the soil, suppress weed growth and protect your plants from extreme temperatures.
You’ll want to mulch anything that needs protection from moisture loss, temperature changes or weed infestation. In the fall, that usually means rhododendrons, azaleas, roses, bulbs and annuals. You’ll also want to cover up any vegetable garden as well as the lawn itself (more on that later).
Mulch’s ability to conserve soil moisture is well known. Experts say that with mulch, you can reduce moisture evaporation by up to 50 percent! This saves you valuable water after the rugged drought season we just experienced – and with water restrictions being enforced in many communities across the country.
Mulch helps prevent the escape of rain, dew and water drawn from the subsoil. Without mulch, most dew is completely wasted as far as plant growth is concerned. It’s important you keep the dew and moisture contained and the ground soil healthy.
As for weed control, you can cut weeding time by nearly 66% with mulch! First, make sure the mulch you are using is weed-free. All your good intentions can go for naught with one application of weed-infested mulch. That results in more weeds being introduced to your plantings than the mulch can control.
Make your mulch deep enough to prevent weed germination. Weeds thrive on light, but they wither when covered properly. If you apply your mulch too thin, weeds can crop up – so cover all the open areas you can find. And remember, no mulch can stop all weeds. But with the proper mulch application, it’s easy to pluck the few weeds that get through.
In cold weather, your mulch will help slow down the freezing and thawing of your soil, which can cause soil heaving and root damage. To put it simply: Mulch is like an insulating blanket that keeps your plant roots cooler on warm days and warmer on cool days.
A super-cheap source of mulch.
You know those leaves in the trees that rain down on you throughout the fall? Here’s a tip you’re going to love. Forget raking. Forget bagging. Let those beautiful leaves fall down all over your yard and turn them into wonderful, nutrient-rich mulch. Best of all, you’ll love the price. Free!
According to recent studies, mulched-up leaves are great for your lawn. Just mulch all your leaves with your lawnmower and feed your yard and gardens the results. You’ll save work, time and your aching back – while improving your soil and adding valuable nutrients.
Here’s how to do it. Take the grass catcher off your mower and mow over all the leaves on your lawn. Any kind of rotary mower will work on any kind of leaves – up to 18 inches deep (though that will take you a few passes to chop up). You will want to mow the leaves into small, dime-sized pieces. You’re done when about half an inch of grass can be seen through the mulched leaf layer.
Once the leaf bits settle in, microbes and worms will get down to business and recycle them naturally. If you want to give your mulch a boost by helping the microbes, nitrogen is the answer. Go to your lawn & garden center for some retail options to help break down your mulched leaves faster.
Mulch today, and in the spring you’ll notice a big difference. The leaf litter you mulched up in the fall will be long gone – and your lawn and gardens will look healthier than ever.
Hopefully, you won’t mind your rakes and leaf bags getting a little dusty.