The mulching procedure is applying mulches (straw, wood chips, leaves and grass clippings) to the bare soil around plants and the resulting effect is that it has provided the garden a neat and tidy appearance, as well as reducing the amount of time spent on watering and weeding in the garden. Applying mulches on bare soil is a common procedure, but they can also be used to cover the surface of compost in flowering and plant containers.
Knowing that plants need constant moisture for proper growth, the moisture retention can be achieved by mulching, which makes use of mulches to absorb the water. Mulches help both in the absorption of water from rainfall and irrigation and the slowing down of evaporation of moisture from the soil. The improved water retention has the advantage of reducing the need for frequent irrigation, thereby allowing for spacing out the plant watering longer to reduce water consumption. Through mulching, slow erosion is produced since the process prevents the water from washing the soil out of the garden.
Mulch provides as an insulating layer for the soil, therefore allowing the temperature of the ground to change more slowly, and for this reason, mulch is usually applied in the spring or early summer. As the temperature drops in the fall and winter, the mulch layer allows the soil to retain heat, and with that, the warm soil allows the plants to grow longer during those seasons, as well as protecting the plants’ roots from the harsh winter temperature.
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The effect of mulching also has the advantage of suppressing the growth of unwanted weed in the plant beds and in the garden, because the layer of mulch prevents sunlight from reaching into the germinating weeds from the soil to grow. On the other hand, when weed seeds land on top of the mulch, they aren’t able to root themselves deeply into the soil, making it impossible for them to continue growing.
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Using organic mulch materials, like wood chips or leaves, can help enrich the soil, since mulch break down over time and the decomposed mulch adds the nutrients to the soil in order to feed the plants and organisms that are existing in the plant area which are covered with mulch. The decomposed mulch also improve the structure of the soil by adding space between the particles in the soil, such that the added space allows the roots to receive water, oxygen, and nutrients because the soil is not hard nor compact.
While garden beds and borders can be entirely be covered with mulches, care must also be observed for low growing plants and against the stems of woody plants. To effectively apply mulches, the following must be observed: first remove the weeds including the roots, moisten the soil, and apply the layer of mulch with a thickness between 5 cm and 7.5 cm.