Improper mulching is one of the biggest mistakes that new gardeners make. But don’t panic, because I’ve got your back! In this post, I’ll tell you why mulching is good for your garden, and show you how to spread mulch step-by-step. Plus I’ll give you tons of garden mulching tips to help you feel confident that you’re doing it right.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Dig It Apparel®. I was also provided with a pair of the gardening gloves mentioned in this post at no charge. All opinions and text are my own.
Mulching is good for your garden, and gives it a nice, finished look. The main benefits of mulching are weed control, and it also helps the soil stay cool and retain moisture during the hot summer months.
Mulching benefits your garden soil as well, because it adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down, helping to build rich, fertile soil that plants love. But, believe it or not, there is a right way to spread mulch, and a wrong way.
Before I jump into the steps for spreading mulch, let me answer a few commonly asked mulching questions first…
How Often Should You Replace Mulch?
Well, that depends on the type of mulch you use. Lightweight organic mulching materials, such as leaves, straw mulch, or grass clippings, break down much faster than hardwood mulch does. Lightweight organic mulches will need to be replaced at least once per year, and sometimes more often if they decompose quickly.
Wood mulch will need to be replaced every 2-3 years. They do tend to fade though, so if it’s not time to replace your garden mulch, you can just fluff it up using a rake or your hands to refresh the look.
When Should You Spread Mulch?
Another common question I get is when to mulch. Spring and fall are both great times for mulching in your garden. I personally prefer mulching the garden in the spring so that it looks fresh all summer long. Otherwise, if I mulch in the fall, it’s covered with leaves and debris and looks faded after the winter.
The best time for spring mulching is after the ground has thawed, and while the ground is still moist. I recommend waiting until the plants have started growing though. Otherwise, you could accidentally bury something that hasn’t popped out of the soil yet.
If you don’t get to it in the spring don’t worry, you can spread mulch in the garden anytime summer through the fall.
How Deep Should Mulch Be?
Mulch should be 2-3 inches deep. Anything less than 2 inches, and you won’t get the benefit of weed protection. On the flip side, heavy mulching (more than 3 inches) can prevent water from getting to the soil, and also bury the base of plants.
The Proper Method Of Mulching
This is where we need to talk about mulching techniques, and how to avoid improper mulching. If you have an area where there’s soil only (with no plants), then you don’t need to worry. But, if you’re mulching around a tree or garden plants, then proper mulching is important.
The most common mistake people make is to pile the mulch around the base of plants and trees. This is very bad for the plant. Plants and tree trunks partially buried like this can end up having major issues with pests, disease and rotting.
It’s important to keep the mulch away from the base of the plants, so that there is plenty of air circulation around the stem. So, as you’re mulching plants, make sure that none of it is touching the stem. It’s easiest to do that if you use your hands when mulching your garden plants.
If your garden is covered in leaves from the fall, you don’t need to remove the leaves. In fact, it’s better for your garden if you leave them there, they break down really fast and feed the soil. You can just spread mulch right over the top of the leaves.
How To Mulch A Garden
- Bow rake
- Weeding tool
- Gardening gloves
I highly recommend wearing gardening gloves when working in the garden, especially when you’re spreading mulch. Gloves protect your hands from splinters and cuts, and keep your hands and fingernails clean. I especially love Dig It® gardening gloves! They are crafted specifically for women, so they fit my small hands perfectly. Plus, they have reinforced pillow-top protection built into the fingertips to protect your fingernails, so I can really dig in without ruining my manicure!
How To Spread Mulch Step-By-Step
If the soil in your garden is dry, then water it well before mulching your beds. It’s best to spread mulch when the soil is damp rather than dry, plus it’s easier to pull the weeds. Here’s a step-by-step guide on spreading mulch..
Step 1: Remove established weeds – Don’t worry, you don’t need to remove every single tiny little weed you see. You just need to worry about removing the large weeds that are growing in the garden. Tiny weed seedlings will be smothered by the mulch.
Step 2: Edge the garden beds – In addition to removing weeds, it’s a good idea to edge your garden beds to remove any grass that’s creeping in before covering your garden with mulch. That will give your garden a nice clean look, and keep the grass from taking over.
Step 3: Spread the mulch – Use your hands to spread it around the base of your plants (be sure to wear gardening gloves!), making sure that none of it is piled around the stem. You can use a bow rake to spread it in larger areas, and in between the plants.
Step 4: Water after mulching beds – This step is optional, but if the mulch is totally dry, then it’s a good idea to wet it down after you’re done spreading it. This will weight it down and help to keep it from blowing away in the wind, and also ensure that it comes in contact with the soil so it can smother all those weeds.
That’s easy, easy peasy. Now that you know when and how to spread mulch in your garden, you’ll enjoy all of the benefits that a freshly mulched garden has to offer. Now you can just sit back, relax and enjoy your gardens.
More Garden Care Posts You Might Like
- Beginner’s Guide to Mulching Your Vegetable Garden
- How To Test Your Soil At Home Using A Soil Test Kit
- Choosing The Best Mulch For Vegetable Gardens
Share your tips for spreading mulch in the comments section below.