Benefits To Mulching

Aside from really setting off the plants in your garden and giving the flower beds a nice uniform look, the value of mulch goes well beyond looking great. It has some really important environmental benefits too. 

Benefit #1:

A layer of mulch acts as a semi-permeable barrier when it comes to water. It allows rain/irrigation water to seep through to the soil but it also helps to slow down evaporation- delaying the need to add water during dry periods, conserving this precious resource! The ability to conserve soil moisture is also why we don’t want to apply mulch to water-logged spring soils… for the health of our plants, we want to encourage these soils to dry out a little before ‘locking in the moisture.

Benefit #2:

A layer of mulch can absorb the impact of driving rains thus preventing your garden soil from washing away or splashing up on your plants. A relevant concern given the rain we have been experiencing as of late! Mulch fibers tend to weave together which helps the layer stay in place in conditions that would otherwise wash soil away. It is important to keep in mind that when mulch fibers become too interwoven, the layer has a tendency to repel water, this is where turning the mulch every now and then is a good idea.

Benefit #3:

Much can help moderate soil temperatures, buffering plants from the heat of summer and the cold temperatures of winter. This can be the difference between the survival or demise of more tender plants or plants growing at the edge of their climate limitations.

Benefit #4:

Exposed soil just screams “Hey weeds! Land available, make your home here!” The barrier provided by mulch can help control weeds in two ways. First of all, a good mulch layer around three inches can prevent existing weed seeds in the soil from taking hold by eliminating the sunlight required for them to germinate. The layer of mulch is also not conducive to rooting, so seeds blowing into the area will have little success at ‘laying claim’ to the land. With that said, it is important to weed your garden before applying mulch. You may think you have won the war by covering up your unwanted plants, but most likely you have not. Sorry. Existing weeds will often grow right through the mulch… forcing you to actually deal with the problem instead of covering it up!

Benefit #5:

Mulch is a natural product that, when it breaks down, it adds organic matter to the soil, which in turn adds nutrients to the soil, increases the water holding capacity of the soil as well as the ability of the soil to retain nutrients. Organic matter can also help break up clay and really sandy soils. In general, it improves the structure of the soil. In this way, mulch is another way we can ‘give back’ to our gardens during the growing season!