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Mulching the Flower Garden

24HRSZENELIFLOWSERS  |  04/11/2011 15:41:38
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Spreading organic mulch on your flower garden keeps plants and soil healthy. Mulch naturally prevents weeds, keeps soil cool and moist, and supplies organic matter.

Reasons Why You Should Mulch Flowers

Whether you grow annual or perennial flowers, tend a mixed border, or just enjoy a few bulbs or mums in your shrub bed or along the foundation or by your mail box, your flower beds will benefit from a layer of mulch year round. Mulch helps keep down weeds. Mulch helps keep the soil cool and moist so watering is reduced. Equally important, organic mulch also provides valuable organic matter for the soil. Mulch helps flowers withstand summer heat and dry spells, reduces soil temperature fluctuations, and helps feed the soil. Every flower garden deserves a healthy layer of organic mulch.

Use Organic Mulch Materials

There are many different organic mulch materials such as chipped or shredded bark, shredded leaves, half finished compost, and hay or straw. Specialty materials may be available in some areas such as cocoa mulch, pine straw, salt hay or buckwheat hulls. They are all good for your flower garden. The important thing is to use an organic mulch.

How to Spread Mulch: a Flat Layer Two to Three Inches Deep

The basic procedure is to cover the soil with a fairly uniform layer of mulch about two to three inches thick. The mulch should be placed around and between the plants. Avoid covering your plants, and keep the mulch an inch or two away from the plant stems.

Maintaining and Toppping Up Mulch

Plan on raking or "fluffing" the mulch periodically. This prevents it from packing down and repelling rain. Replenish mulch periodically so it stays about two to three inches thick. Do not mulch excessively deep. When adding more mulch, you can use the same material again or mix different mulch materials. Raking and adding fresh mulch from time to time will help prevent weed seeds from germinating and growing in the mulch.

Control Weeds First

Thoroughly remove any large weeds before mulching. If many weeds are beginning to grow in your flower bed, rake them out or hoe them off short before mulching. If you have had serious trouble with weeds in the past, you may want to place damp newspaper (about ten pages thick) on the ground between your plants and spread the mulch on top of that. The newspaper will help to smother the weeds by preventing sunlight from reaching them.

Reduce Watering after Mulching

For best results, apply mulch when the soil is already damp such as after a deep watering or a soaking rain. After mulching, you should find that you need to water less because the mulched areas stay moist longer than bare soil. Monitor the soil moisture and adjust your irrigation system accordingly, if you use one.

The Best Time to Mulch is Now

Mulching is easy to do, and one of the best steps you can take in caring for your flower garden; using organic mulch helps keep the soil and the plants healthy. You can top up your mulch or start mulching at any time. It's never too late to mulch!

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copyright 2006 Barbara Martin

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