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Learning More about Mulching The process of improving the soil around plants using mulches, such as straw, wood chips, leaves and grass clippings, is referred to as mulching and through this procedure, it has also provided a neat and tidy appearance of a garden, as well as reducing the amount of time that can be spent on watering and weeding 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. Moisture retention is the topmost objective of mulching, and since plants need constant moisture for proper growth, the mulch keeps the soil moist for longer than a bare soil. With mulches covering the soil, these absorb water, coming from rainfall and irrigation, and slow down the evaporation of moisture from the soil. With improved water retention, the need for frequent irrigation is reduced and, therefore, plant watering can be spaced out longer so that water consumption is reduced. Slow erosion can also happen in mulching since it prevents the water from washing the soil out of the garden. Because mulch acts as an insulating layer to the soil, the effect is the temperature of the ground is almost maintained, and with that condition, applying mulch during spring and early summer can help control the soil temperature. The fall and winter cold temperature allows the layer of mulch to retain the heat in the soil, such that the warm soil provides longer growth for the plants, as well as protecting the roots from the harsh winter temperatures.
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The layer of mulch prevents sunlight from reaching into the germinating weeds from the soil to grow and this in effect allows mulching to suppress the growth of unwanted weed in the plant beds and in the garden. Even if the weed seeds grow on top of the mulch layer, they aren’t able to root deeply into the soil, making it almost impossible for them to grow.
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Organic mulch material, like wood chips or leaves, break down over time, such that the decomposing mulch adds nutrient-rich organic matter to the soil, and in effect, these nutrients feed the plants and organisms living in the plant area that are covered with mulch. With the decomposition of the mulch, it has further improved the soil structure in such a way that it added space between the particles of the soil, resulting into allowing water, oxygen, and nutrients to reach the plant roots, since the soil is not hard nor compact. Applying mulch can be entirely done on garden beds and borders, but one should take care not to smother low growing plants or against 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.