Mulch is material applied to the surface of the soil for protection and improvement is considered a mulch. Passing yard trimmings through a shredder will create a uniform mulch. The less woody and fibrous the mulch, the faster it ages. Grass clippings, leaves, food waste and newspaper age quickly. Wood chips, bark, sawdust, pine needles, and straw/hay age slowly. View a flyer on mulching (PDF).
Benefits of Mulching
Organic mulches improve the condition of the soil. As these mulches slowly decompose, they provide organic matter that helps keep the soil loose. This improves root growth, increases the infiltration of water and also improves the water-holding capacity of the soil.
Organic matter is a source of plant nutrients and provides an ideal environment for earthworms and other beneficial soil organisms. Mulching also does the following:
- Reduces the compaction of soil from the impact of heavy rains
- Protects the soil from erosion, conserves moisture, reducing the need for frequent watering
- Maintains a more even soil temperature
- Prevents weed growth
- Keeps fruits and vegetables clean
- Provides a “finished” look to the garden
|Bark Mulch||2 to 4 inches||Smaller chips are easier to spread around small plants. Excellent for use around trees, shrubs, and perennial gardens. When spreading mulch around trees, keep the mulch 1 to 2 inches from trunk.|
|Wood Chips||2 to 4 inches||Similar to bark mulch. If using fresh wood chips mixed with leaves, composting may be beneficial.|
|Leaves||2 to 4 inches||Best to chop and compost before spreading. If using dry leaves, apply 6 inches.|
|Grass Clippings||3 to 4 inches||Thick layers tend to compact and rot. Add layers as clippings decompose. Do not use clippings from lawns treated with herbicides.|
|Newspaper||0.25 inches||Apply sheets of newspaper and cover with grass clippings or other mulch material to anchor or cover edges of paper with soil.|
|Compost||3 to 4 inches||Great for enriching soil.|