by Dr. Robert Moon
There is a time and place for everything and if you have not cleaned up your planting beds from summer, now is a good time.
First, if you have not switched your irrigation system to off, do so now. There has been plenty of natural rainfall to keep your plants thriving. Only leave your irrigation system on if you have recently planted new plants and only provide water to those new plantings.
Now for the mulching part. Start by removing any weeds and unsightly plants from your beds and tree rings. Once debris is cleaned, it is time to mulch to improve appearance of beds and tree rings during the winter months. If you are asking why you need to mulch now, here are the best reasons!
- Mulch will help you conserve moisture in the soil to reduce watering. It also evens out the moisture in your beds and helps save money all other times of the year. It reduces surface evaporation and improves water penetration and air movement in the soil.
- You will really like this reason. It discourages weed growth and makes weeds easier to remove.
- Mulch will provide winter protection for your plants by insulating the roots during periods of cold weather. It also protects roots from extremely hot weather and prevents quick temperature changes to the roots moderating soil temperature fluctuations. For plants that are shallowly planted, it protects roots from freeze damage and frost-heave.
- By mulching, you are improving the holding capacity of soil nutrients and as mulch decomposes, it improves soil structure.
- New, fresh mulch makes garden beds and trees look decorative.
- You can save valuable time and back pain by reducing bed care.
After cleaning beds, add 2 to 3 inches of bark mulch that is double or triple ground hard wood. The HOA guidelines require brown mulch so stay away from the colored mulches.
If you choose to use mulch for decorative purposes on your trees, be sure to follow the below recommendation. Your trees actually thrive best when the grass grows up and around the tree. For the health of your trees, circling them with a restrictive boarder, such as tree rings, are detrimential to the life of the tree as it does not allow for proper arriation of the root system.
Find your next pretty day and add another thing to do in an already busy season. Mulch away!