Mulching, as an agricultural practice, borrowed from nature, has long been familiar to farmers. It is also well known that mulch weakens moisture evaporation, protects the soil from leaching of nutrients, reduces fluctuations in soil temperature, prevents the formation of soil crust, intensifies the activity of microorganisms, and suppresses the growth of weeds.
To achieve these goals, the literature recommends using, as a rule, either film and sheet materials, or various organics. It is on this most important issue that most of the owners of summer cottages and garden plots stumble most often.
To choose the right mulch and to ensure its effectiveness, consider first the first group of mulch materials.
Based on the fact that recently it has been advertised most often, emphasizing that such mulching is ideal, simple, requires almost no labor and gives the fastest and most tangible effect. However, as practice shows, all these advantages relate primarily to black opaque films and to specially colored mulch paper. Moreover, this manifests itself in the pre-planting period in the accelerated heating of the soil, and in the post-sowing period - in the acceleration of seed germination and emergence of seedlings. In winter, under such a shelter, according to experience, plants, such as strawberries, often freeze slightly, with late spring frosts they lose flowers, and in summer the soil there overheats, and the roots are often damaged. In addition, judging by the published data, from the second year the strawberry harvest has been falling due to the increased formation of whiskers.
The transparent film is not suitable for mulching either, as it stimulates the growth and development of weeds, which adversely affects the crops grown. New self-decomposing films based on mulch paper also did not meet expectations, since the process of their disintegration is uncontrollable and highly dependent on climatic conditions.
In practice, such frequently recommended materials as spunbond, roofing felt and cardboard turned out to be far from ideal. As evidenced by the experience, for example, of the amateur gardener K. Firsova, when the newly appeared sprouts were covered with spunbond, they froze under it and were partially removed, and the plants remained unharmed in the clumps of hay. From the experience of the amateur gardener A. Lebedeva, it is known that covering strawberry beds with slots for bushes with roofing material did not give a positive result, since very little rain and irrigation moisture got through the slots, the soil became compacted, the plants gradually wore off, and froze in winter.
My personal experience of using cardboard from boxes for mulching was also unsuccessful. Despite all the measures to fix it on the soil, some pieces were strongly deformed from moisture and the sun, and with a strong gusty wind they easily spread around the site. Such cardboard has taken root only as a cover for passages between the beds in the garden and in greenhouses, thanks to which it was possible to protect not only the passages themselves from weeds, but also to protect the soil of the beds.
From all points of view, various types of organic matter showed themselves better than the other materials named in the article when mulching: stall manure, peat, straw, green manure, semi-rotten compost, post-harvest residues, garden and garden seedless weeds, wilted grass, hay, various garden waste, as well as wood waste in the form of sawdust, shavings, bark, foliage and needles. True, here it is worth saying right away that gardeners do not have much to count on the first four varieties of mulching materials, since manure is scarce and expensive, peat is mainly processed and sold through stores, straw has become a rarity, and special cultivation of green manure in the volumes required for the plots is unrealistic. However, as practice shows, the remaining mulch materials on this list, which are obtained practically free of charge, can be completely dispensed with on the plots.
Experience has shown that the use of organic mulch instead of film and sheet mulch materials provides many very important advantages.
Firstly, the mulch cover from the specified organic matter has not only protective, but also nutritious properties, since in the zone of contact between soil and mulch in the warm season, the vigorous activity of various microorganisms is almost immediately initiated. At the same time, due to the contact of organic matter with microbes and minerals, gas exchange occurs, and the resulting carbon dioxide is continuously delivered to plants for fertilization and assimilation through the stomatal gaps from the bottom of the leaves. Secondly, due to the mixing of mulch varieties of different composition and properties, the same diverse communities of microorganisms are involved in the processing of organic matter, due to which the process of mulch decomposition is enhanced. The result of this interaction of organic matter and microorganisms is a loose, finely lumpy, porous, aerated and very nutritious soil environment, unattainable with other mulch materials.
Speaking of organic mulch, one cannot fail to note the conditions under which the best mulching results are achieved. In addition to the already indicated mixing of various mulch components, an equally important factor is the grinding of the raw materials, which allows not only to more evenly distribute the mulch over the row spacing, but also to accelerate the processes of its decomposition. It is equally important that the soil before covering with mulch is well moistened, loosened and warmed up.
If in specific conditions it is required to accelerate or lengthen the process of soil mulching in time, then it is very important to choose the right mulch components. To accelerate the decomposition of mulch in the mass, garden and vegetable waste, grass and weeds should prevail. At the same time, when a long duration of mulch action is desirable, wood waste should prevail in it: bark and foliage, sawdust and shavings. Taking this factor into account, when mulching annual vegetable crops, vegetable garden waste is best suited for this purpose, and when mulching perennial fruit and berry crops, woody ones.
The most important indicator of the effectiveness of mulching soil with organic materials is the thickness of the mulch cover, and recommendations in the literature about this are either completely absent or very contradictory. Based on my experience, I consider it sufficient to have a mulch layer of 4-6 cm. However, this applies to sufficiently cultivated soil.
As for heavy clay soils, in order to avoid rotting of the lowest layer, it is best to mulch in 2-3 steps, but in thin layers of 2-3 cm. Sandy soils for mulching are ideal, and even with a thicker layer there is no mulch rotting. True, in these two cases, it is also highly desirable to apply appropriate fertilizers, for example, compost compost, before mulch application.
In the event that for any reason the above plant mulch materials are not enough for mulching the soil, good results are obtained by the use of specific weed plants, available on or near the site: lupine, mouse pea, dandelion, plantain, sleepy, burdock, horsetail and others. It is only important that they wilted and were well chopped with pruners or scissors. Additives to such mulch are very effective, chopped nettle, which repels slugs and snails, and valerian, which attracts earthworms.
Excellent results - I can judge this from my own experience - gives wood waste mulch... It has been found, for example, that shavings and sawdust, applied after about two weeks in very thin layers and evenly, not only protect the soil, but also provide illumination of the plants from below. And such illumination, for example, when growing tomatoes and peppers, not only has a beneficial effect on the lower surface of the leaves, but also causes their better growth and development, increasing the yield.
Excellent for mulching bark and needles... For example, needles, having a high physiological activity, when added to the mixture in a volume of up to 30%, made it possible to completely get rid of the scab of potatoes grown from tubers with this disease. When mulching with such a mixture of strawberry row spacings, it was possible not only to get rid of pests, but also to get a higher yield, and with berries that were distinguished by some particularly pleasant taste. In addition, to use the needles, it is not at all necessary to cut it off green, but it is quite possible to do with the fallen one, since it does not lose its special properties.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the beds covered with organic mulch warm up slowly in spring, especially during prolonged cold weather. Therefore, before sowing or planting, mulch should either be removed from the beds so that the soil warms up, or embedded in the soil if the mulch has decomposed well by this time.
In terms of size, bark mulch can be attributed to one of 3 fractions:
Large is used mainly as an element of landscape design: it is used to decorate large garden paths, paths between plantings and decorative areas. But it is also an excellent covering material for flower beds for the winter, protecting the soil from freezing. The larger the fraction, the longer its service life. For small pieces, it is 1-2 seasons, the average size of the mulch bark can not be changed for 3-4 years, and large fragments "live" up to 6 years of age.
Medium and small varieties have more "practical" applications: they are sprinkled on berry and vegetable crops.
Almost every summer resident who has a minimum lawn space has mowed grass. If there is no lawn, you will have to go to the nearest meadow to make hay. It is important that the plants are seedless, be sure to dry the grass. Fresh grass cakes and creates a layer that is impervious to air, in which decay processes take place. Crushed and dried grass allows moisture and air to pass through well, microorganisms actively work under it, on its surface there is a useful hay stick (Bacillus subtilis), which suppresses the development of plant pathogens.
Straw is considered a good mulching material, and it also enriches the soil with beneficial microorganisms. However, it must be removed from the beds for the winter, as it attracts rodents.
Use straw, hay, grass to mulch the soil in the garden and in the garden when growing any plants. It is important to take into account that when they decompose, microorganisms consume the available nitrogen contained in the soil and deprive plants of nutrition. When using these types of mulch, be sure to apply nitrogen fertilizers.
Before mulching the beds with early vegetables (primarily with radishes) with humus, I mix bone meal in half with sifted ash. I sprinkle the beds with this composition. This protects vegetables from excess moisture and the development of putrefactive processes.
For several years in a row, I noticed that neighbors often go to the pond for algae, especially in a drought. Then spread the green porridge on the beds. I tried to mulch cucumbers with such mulch - the result is 10 points! It was not always possible to water them quite often, but the harvest was still excellent, and most importantly, the cucumbers did not taste bitter.
River algae, indeed, are capable not only of retaining moisture, but can also serve as an analogue of a hydrogel (they absorb water and release it gradually). In addition, they contain a lot of potassium and other trace elements, which makes them not only protection from weeds and drying out, but also an excellent top dressing for the garden.
Svetlana KRIVENKOVA, agronomist
When the weather is dry, especially moisture-loving plants (cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, cabbage), I mulch abundantly with sphagnum moss. It is difficult to close the entire bed with such mulch (moss has to be collected in the forest, and there is not so much of it). Therefore, I spread the moss only around the bushes so as to cover the soil within a radius of 20 cm from the trunk. Moss retains moisture well and does not dry out for a long time. In the fall, I collect it and take it for storage in a wooden box, which I put in a greenhouse.
Moss (especially sphagnum) is a really great garden mulch. It not only retains moisture, but also disinfects the soil. But spores of fungi, including phytophthora, can settle on the mulch, therefore, before putting the moss for storage, it is advisable to spill it with Fitosporin diluted according to the instructions and dry it.
To protect the cabbage from slugs, I mulch the soil around the plants with broken walnut shells mixed in half with eggshells. I tried to mulch the beds with sawdust for the same purpose, but they did not help much.
Initially, we deliberately did not want to use sawdust in the garden, hearing with the edge of our ear that they strongly acidify the soil, and we have successfully used this type of mulch exclusively for covering the beds under blueberries. But once we got more than 10 bags of fresh fine sawdust, which made us study in more detail the intricacies of mulching with this material.
As it turned out, the negative impact of fresh sawdust on the soil can really be, but along with this, there were ways to minimize this impact. In particular, sawdust is believed to draw nitrogen from the soil. And this is indeed so, but here it should be clarified that nitrogen is not consumed by the sawdust themselves, but by bacteria that decompose wood waste in the soil. Based on this, together with sawdust, it is imperative to add food for gluttonous microorganisms.
Gardeners who do not hesitate to use mineral fertilizers, for this purpose, abundantly spill shavings with a urea solution. And adherents of strict organic farming recommend mixing sawdust with horse or cow dung, or with chicken droppings.
Another difficulty associated with the use of woodworking waste on rows is a change in the soil balance towards an increase in acidity. And this feature was also a consequence of the vital activity of the aforementioned bacteria. But even such undesirable consequences are quite easy to eliminate by adding a neutralizing acid lime (100-150 grams per bucket of sawdust), dolomite flour or ash.
It should also be remembered that not completely rotted sawdust of coniferous species, due to their specific composition, acidifies the soil much more strongly than deciduous ones. However, after the wood waste is composted, there will be no difference in acidity between coniferous and deciduous sawdust.
Following these recommendations, we mixed sawdust with wood ash and cow dung, receiving not only a harmless mulching material, but also an excellent fertilizer. Natural decomposition of waste from woodworking enterprises usually takes from 2 to 4 years, but in order to speed up the process of decomposition of mulch and enrich the soil with nutrients, we added special bacterial preparations to mulch that increase the rate of decomposition of organic matter.
Due to the fine fraction, sawdust mulch has high covering qualities.
Due to the fine fraction, sawdust mulch has high covering qualities, therefore it is much more effective in preventing weeds than straw or cut grass. On our beds, from the depths of the soil through a thick layer of sawdust (10 centimeters), only single shoots of the most aggressive weeds, which in cities are able to overcome even asphalt, made their way.
In the middle of summer, some weed seeds also began to sprout on the surface of the mulch, but weeding was easy and quick. There were no signs of nitrogen starvation on plants mulched with a mixture of sawdust, ash and manure. With biological products, the mulch decomposed in one season, and without the use of additional microorganisms, the sawdust mulch lasted for 2 years (but at the beginning of summer, we still slightly refurbished the top layer).
1. For organic mulch to work, apply a thick layer (at least 5 cm). When it settles, add so that the thickness of the mulch does not change.
2. You need to cover the beds with loose materials when the seedlings reach 7-10 cm, so that the leaves are above the surface of the mulch.
3. Remember that organic mulch contains little nitrogen, so to prevent straw and sawdust from pulling this element out of the soil, spray it with ammonium nitrate solution (matchbox for 10 liters of water) before spreading or mix the crushed mulch in half with compost.
4. If using organic lane mulch, at least double the layer thickness.
5. For the winter, it is better not to leave mulch on the soil surface, since in spring it will not allow the ground to warm up quickly.
Black spunbond as mulch
Easy to use and relatively cheap. It is water permeable, with proper care it can last up to 5 years, it is easy to wash, dry and store.
Laying sequence: prepare the bed, spread the material over the surface, fix it with metal brackets, boards or dig in with earth around the perimeter. In the places where the plants will be planted, make the slots with a stationery KNIFE.
Cardboard or roofing felt as mulch
Excellent weed protection. They are moisture resistant and more suitable for tracks. Among the disadvantages: cardboard quickly gets wet under the influence of rain, roofing material in the sun heats up very much and becomes sticky, easily collapses if you walk on it. At the end of the season, the cardboard will have to be burned, the roofing material can be used next year.
Black plastic wrap
It completely solves the issue of weeds, but does not let water through, so either each plant will have to be watered separately, or expensive drip irrigation will have to be laid. Transparent film and white spunbond do not protect against weeds, so there is almost no point in using them.
Has a neutral reaction, fertilizes and warms the soil. But it does not protect against pests or weeds.
Straw as mulch
It has a slightly alkaline reaction, protects against slugs, helps to regulate the temperature regime (it slowly warms up and cools down), protects the garden from drying out, and the fruits from contact with the soil. It is advisable to mulch the surface of the bed with straw when the plants reach a height of at least 12 cm.
Cut grass as mulch
It is rich in nitrogen, fertilizes the garden bed, protects against sudden changes in temperature and drying out. But it rots in a damp summer and can harm plants. In addition, weed seeds can enter the vegetable garden.
To prevent sawdust from acidifying the soil, mix it with lime two weeks before use (150 g per bucket of sawdust)
The best materials for mulching are considered organic, so to speak, natural substances: peat, humus, sawdust, needles, tree bark, etc. Even wet newspapers or cardboard, laid out next to the plants and sprinkled with soil, can serve as mulch, albeit not for long, since the decay process of such a material occurs quickly.
It is better to mulch with sawdust or wood chips in those parts of the garden where the soil is rarely cultivated and dug up, that is, in furrows or in between rows, since it will take 1.5-2 years for sawdust or wood chips for final decomposition.
This mulch is well suited for a raspberry plant or for beds with crops in the winter, to which it is applied in late autumn. It should be noted that if the sawdust was somewhere in the corner of the garden for a long time, they had time to pack or "sour" due to lack of oxygen in the depths of the heap... This mulch will not be beneficial, but will only harm the plants. To avoid this, it is necessary to simply dry this material before use, sprinkling it in a thin layer.
If sawdust, small shavings or tree bark are used as mulch, nitrogen disappears from the fertile layer, since it is taken up by wood mulch during decay. Of course, this negatively affects the plants.
To avoid nitrogen starvation of the soil, before sprinkling sawdust and other similar materials, pour the soil with an infusion of mullein or feces, or dilute a handful of urea in a bucket of water.
One of the important advantages of mulching the soil with sawdust is that slugs do not like to crawl on such a surface, they prefer smooth and moist. Accordingly, sawdust mulch solves the problem with slugs. But there is also a small drawback.: sawdust and small chips tend to cake over time.
This can harm plants - due to lack of air and excessive moisture, root and root diaper rash can occur. Therefore, large wood chips are better suited for such mulch.
Straw, like sawdust, also scares off slugs. Moreover, it is better to mulch the beds with straw, and not with sawdust, laying it in a layer about 15 cm high.Do not be afraid that this will interfere with the plants in the future, the straw will settle down to a height of 5-7 cm in a short time.
Very good straw mulch suitable for tomatoes and potatoes. It will help protect tomatoes from a number of bacteria that are in the soil, prevent early rot, anthracnose and leaf spot diseases of the bushes, and save potatoes from the main enemy - the Colorado potato beetle. It is also good to mulch with straw and beds with basil, garlic, strawberries and blackberries.
Bark mulching is perhaps the most durable. The bark does not absorb water, so the decay process takes a very long time. Due to the long-term use, this mulch is best suited for fruit trees and shrubs, it is also good in any flower bed and berry. But for tomatoes, such mulch is unlikely to be suitable because of its volatile substances, which will not benefit tomato bushes.
The bark can be scattered under conifers. They will like acidified soil, which is obtained by mulching with bark. Quite often, coniferous tree bark mulch is used to decorate the landscape.
The grass contains a lot of nitrogen and other nutrients that help plants to fully develop. After weeding the beds, mowing the lawn, or removing stepchildren, there is usually quite a bit of grass on the tomatoes. It should be dried in the sun for a couple of days, since, firstly, freshly cut grass serves as a refuge for snails and slugs, and secondly, the process of decay in raw grass begins very quickly, and then it covers the soil under the plants.
Mulching cabbage beds with tomato leaves will drive away such pests as cabbage whites from cabbage.
Damp cut grass can be used to mulch the soil in the garden after harvest, when the rains begin. For the period before the onset of frost, this mulch will have time to rot and turn into fertilizer over the winter. And one more plus: the soil in the garden will be additionally protected from winter cold.
It will be very good to mulch cabbage and beans with leaves. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants will also benefit from mulching with fallen leaves after a good heating of the soil.
Also, deciduous mulch in flower beds will protect them from frost, and during spring thaws, it will not allow bulbous plants to wake up so early. Related article - leaves as fertilizer for the soil.
Eggplants and strawberries are very fond of pine needles as mulch. Many do not use pine needles for mulching, believing that the soil is oxidizing due to the needles. But the experiments carried out prove that when the soil is covered with a seven-centimeter layer of needles from the needles for two years in a row, the acidity of the soil does not change.
Coniferous mulch looks very beautiful in a flower bed, as well as chopped pine cones or reeds.
It turns out that nettle is not present in all vegetable gardens. This weed appears only on good soil, which is rich in humus and well structured. In general, if nettles began to grow in the garden, then you need to rejoice: everything is in order with the soil on the site!
This nondescript-looking weed grass contains so many useful trace elements and vitamins, especially iron, that not every medicinal plant can be compared to nettle! And in terms of nitrogen content, it is ahead of even mown grass, straw and peat, not to mention manure.
In the process of decomposition of any parts of this wonderful plant, humus is formed, which is suitable for all crops. Mulching the soil with nettles gives an amazing result - everything grows like a yeast dough. For mulch, it is better to use young nettles. (this is just the beginning of summer, when the mulching process begins).
Moss mulching can only be carried out on non-acidic soil, since such mulch increases acidity. It is absolutely not suitable for strawberries and strawberries, these crops can simply rot on the vine. And for peppers, blueberries, radishes, raspberries and potatoes, this mulch is just a godsend.
It is also good to mulch conifers with moss, some flowers such as roses and azaleas. Saplings of apple and pear trees can be overlaid with moss, this will protect them from excess moisture, since the moss will absorb it, and during a drought will give it to the plants. In addition, moss is an excellent antiseptic.
Also, the use of humus, cake or sunflower husks and pumpkin seeds can be an excellent mulch for beds and a garden.
The best way to use cut grass is to make mulch out of it. The grass decomposes rather quickly and improves the soil. With a layer of grass about 5 cm thick, weed growth is prevented. It is advisable to lay the grass not immediately in a thick layer, but in parts. As the last layer dries, add a new one to prevent caking of the mulch layer.
It is not advisable to use hay for mulching, as it contains a lot of weed seeds.
scrap is more suitable for these purposes. Keep in mind that straw decomposes rather quickly, so periodically check the thickness of the mulch layer.
For trees and shrubs that love acidic soils, needles mulch with a thickness of about 5 cm would be an excellent option.It looks great and allows water to penetrate easily.
A layer of leaves about 8 cm thick protects well against weeds. Beech and oak leaves contribute to the acidity of the soil. In addition, the decaying leaves will improve soil fertility. As they decompose, add a new layer of mulch on top. The availability of a variety of tree leaves as mulch is attracting more and more attention.
A beautiful and durable mulch is obtained from the nutshell, which perfectly retains moisture in the soil, and its dark brown color will perfectly fit into the garden landscape. This mulch is mainly available in areas where nuts grow.
Since gravel, crushed stone or pebbles do not decompose, they are best used for decorative mulching of the soil, mainly under trees. Before laying, it is advisable to cover the place with a special non-woven material so that the weeds cannot break through, then cover it with a mulching layer of 3-5 cm.Do not use such materials under plants that like acidic soil, as stones can release alkaline compounds into the ground.
By using black plastic sheeting, weeds are very effectively prevented. It also retains moisture well in the soil, so you should not use the film in areas with poor drainage system, as this will lead to root rot. In order for water to penetrate into the soil, it is necessary to cut small holes in the film.
What is mulch
The name comes from a word from English mulch, which means covering the roots of plants - with straw, manure, grass, peat. Mulch is any material that is laid out in a layer on the ground. Mulch was invented by nature itself. Any piece of land where light and moisture fall immediately becomes habitable. The grasses die off in the fall, creating a thick undercoat of new grass - organic mulch. And in the forest, the soil surface is densely covered with litter - leaf or coniferous, or even mixed. There is also mulch in the mountains - mineral mulch! These are small pieces of stone that are washed away by water. So we can safely take an example from nature and use mulch in the garden.
Chemo useful mulch on the site
Mulch is not only beautiful - it is beneficial. The use of mulch on the site helps to solve various problems of caring for the garden and flower beds:
1. Retain moisture in the soil. A loose, non-caking layer of mulch, even 3–5 cm thick, significantly reduces evaporation. In the dry heat, which often happens in summer, this is simply salvation if you have limited water use.
2. Reduce the risk of soil compaction and prevent the formation of soil crust, which impedes seed germination, reduces oxygen supply to plant roots and increases moisture evaporation.
3. Restrain the growth of weeds. Seeds of annual weeds hardly germinate through the layer of mulch, and the rhizomes of perennial weeds are pulled out much more easily than from bare ground.
4. Reduce soil erosion if the site is located on a slope or it rains heavily.
5. Smooth out temperature fluctuations. Under a layer of mulch, the ground freezes significantly longer, and in summer it overheats less, which is important for some crops (for example, clematis).
6. To improve the physicochemical characteristics of the upper soil layer due to the active development of microorganisms beneficial to plants.
7. Decorate the site. Correctly selected color of decorative mulch becomes an excellent background for the garden, the inhabitants of the flower garden, and the covered surface makes the garden neat and tidy.
8. Save time and effort in caring for plants.By using mulch, the gardener is less busy with work. He has to water the plants less often, it becomes more convenient to remove weeds and loosen the soil.
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The use of mulch in landscaping
The tradition of using decorative mulch in landscape design is inherent in both regular western parks with their parterres in front of palace facades, and eastern rocky gardens. Mulch sets off the beauty of trees and shrubs, perennial plants, and also allows you to combine them into one composition (especially when arranging a decorative multi-tiered edge). She is able to stylistically combine different functional areas of the territory and highlight some fragment.
Mulch allows you to introduce bright colors into the landscape - blue, red, any. It can replace the lawn, decorating heavily shaded or too humid areas of the territory. Some types of mulch have drainage properties - gravel, crushed stone, pebbles. Such a lawn does not need to be planted, mowed, watered, which, you see, greatly facilitates the care of the site.
Using mulch, we get great freedom of action and the ability to create variety even in a small area, alternating lawns, flower beds, road surfaces and, of course, decorative mulch.
What materials can be used for mulching plants
Various organic and inorganic materials can be used as mulch:
How to mulch the soil correctly
The mulching material is placed directly on the ground in a 6–8 cm layer. It is with this thickness that the mulch will have the most beneficial effect on the top layer of the soil, and therefore on the plants. If the material used is too heavy (eg gravel), it can be applied in a thinner layer. In this case, geotextiles (fiberglass and any non-woven materials) are laid out between the mulch and the soil.
Having finished mulching, it is advisable to limit the area with a suitable fence design - say, a side, medium-sized boulders, logs.
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When and how to mulch plants correctly
In early spring, before mulching, you need to prepare the soil surface: remove plant debris, carefully weed out the weeds. Then shed the planting, embed complex fertilizer in the soil and then distribute the mulching material. The mulch should not touch the trunks and stems of the plants, otherwise they can rot. The layer of mulching material depends on the composition of the soil. On loams, it should be no more than two centimeters, on light soils it can be thicker - for grass 7–10 cm, for other materials - 3–6 cm.
Mineral mulch - inorganic particles of various origins. They don't decompose. However, mineral mulch gradually mixes with the soil and it is also necessary to add it, although not as often as organic mulch.
In summer, the mulch does not need to be touched. Mulch is not removed under trees, shrubs, perennials; next year it is better to add a new layer.
If the vegetable beds were mulched with well-decomposed peat, straw or humus, then the mulch can be mixed with the soil during autumn digging by adding nitrogen fertilizers. Sawdust and bark from the beds must be removed and placed in a compost heap, it can be left in the aisles.
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What types of mulch are best to choose
The grass mass can be composted, but it is better to use it to cover the soil. It is not very aesthetically pleasing, but great for an orchard: around trees and shrubs. By re-fermenting, the grass works as an organic fertilizer. Cons: the grass is caked and quickly overheated. During the warm season, it is necessary to add 3-4 times.
For which plants: trees, shrubs, large perennials.
Layer thickness: freshly cut grass can be laid 10–15 cm, it settles down to 4–5 cm in just a few days.
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2. Coniferous litter. Pine is preferable - it is looser and takes longer to decompose.
Pros: looks cute, cost-free, keeps the topsoil loose for a long time. Cons: decomposes quickly, requires adding 1-2 times a year. There is some chance of bringing pathogens and pests with it. With prolonged use in large quantities, it makes the soil reaction more acidic.
For which plants: Ideal for rhododendrons, conifers, acid-loving trees, shrubs and perennials.
Conifers: how to prepare for winter and take care of in spring >>>.
Wood ash as a soil deoxidizer
3. Leaf litter. Foliage is one of the most readily available types of mulch.
It can be used as a covering material (for example, for warming perennials for the winter). You can not use very large leaves, for example, Norway maple, as mulch: they aggregate into one impenetrable layer, drowning out perennials. The best leaf litter is oak. It makes the soil loose and structured, does not cake and takes longer to decompose. Pros: Free. Cons: Decomposes very quickly. For which plants: trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs. Ideal mulch for garden orchids - lady's shoes.
Layer thickness: about 7-10 cm.
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4. Sawdust. They are quite accessible, especially if there is a wood production nearby or if there are homemade products among your friends.
Before use, the sawdust must be soaked with a solution of ammonium nitrate or urea, so that when overheating, they can use the introduced nitrogen. Pros: Free stuff. Cons: too small, caking, can oppress plants, since nitrogen is pulled out of the soil during decomposition. Light, which greatly complicates the thawing of the soil in spring. It is better to use sawdust not around plants, but to cover garden paths or beds in order to dig it up with the soil at the end of the season.
For what plants: garden crops.
5. Wood chips. These are pieces of wood that are larger than sawdust.
Pros: Decomposes slowly, uses less nitrogen. Loose, not caking. Over time, it darkens (and it becomes more beautiful, more neutral in tone). Aesthetic. Cons: at first it will slow down the spring thawing of the soil. Quite an expensive pleasure. Requires supplementation every 1-2 years.
For what plants: for any, but wiser for shrubs and large perennials.
Layer: 5-7 cm for tree plantings, 3-5 cm for perennials.
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6. Bark. This is the same wood chips, only bark, usually conifers.
There are different factions, you can use everything, depending on the conditions. Pros: slowly decomposes, excellent friability, excellent color, beautiful and dark, which contributes to warming up the soil in spring. Cons: high price. It is necessary to renew it once every 2-3 years, the smaller the fraction, the more often.
For what plants: for any.
Layer: 5–7 cm in woody plantings, 3-5 cm for perennials.
7. Exotic types of mulch: pine nut shells, sunflower seed shells. Used when there is a cheap source, it is expensive to buy. Pine nut shells are beautiful, but expensive. Seeds decompose very quickly.
For which plants: woody, perennials.
Layer: 7-10 cm in woody plantings and 3-5, if for perennials.
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Pros: An excellent mulch, if you made it yourself and correctly, is also a top dressing. Cons: Both types can contain weed seeds. In this case, there will be more problems than benefits from such mulch. You will have to add it once a year.
For which plants: all garden plants. Rose growers and gardeners especially appreciate compost as mulch.
Layer: 5-7 cm in woody plantings and 3-5, if for perennials.
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9. Peat. Horse riding is suitable for mulching, it is loose.
Pros: relatively cheap. Cons: acidic, acidifies the soil. So light it can be blown away by strong winds when it dries up. Top-up once a season.
For which plants: acid-loving trees and shrubs and perennials. Ideal for rhododendrons, more or less suitable for conifers, for other species it requires deoxidation with dolomite flour.
Layer thickness: 7-10 cm in woody plants, 5-6 cm in perennials.
High-moor peat, lowland peat, transitional >>>.
10. Straw. A very accessible type of mulch, most often summer residents independently extract it for free in the fields.
For what plants: usually used in the garden, under strawberries and strawberries, on raspberry plantings.
11. Fine gravel (0.5-1.5 cm). This is an excellent mulch for a rock garden.
It is better not to use dark rocks, many alpine plants do not like overheating of the soil. Small particles quickly go into the soil, so bedding is required once a season.
For what plants: suitable for very low perennials, alpine plants, indoor plants.
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Rock garden of minimal maintenance >>>.
12. Gravel, fine crushed stone (1.5–5 cm). It can serve as a filling in wood compositions.
Too large for perennials. Also, sooner or later, it goes into the soil, you have to pick it out piece by piece.
For which plants: woody, shrubs, roses.
Gravel: how to use it in the garden >>>.
13. Pebbles. This is a mulch for everyone and for specific situations (dry stream or rocky garden, for example). Theoretically suitable for mulching woody plants, but in practice it often looks too exotic. The rest is the same rubble. Natural, marble and polished pebbles glued to the construction mesh appeared on sale. Pebbles on a grid are produced with elements with dimensions of 30x30 cm and borders with dimensions of 10x30 and 15x30 cm. Its use is very convenient when decorating ponds, flowerpots, decorative areas, paths.
For what plants: woody, shrubs.
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14. Another type of mulch can be considered synthetic materials. These are various nonwoven covering materials - spunbond and lutrasil.
By themselves, they will not add beauty to the garden, but can be used as a short-term measure to get rid of weeds. In flower beds and in plantings of shrubs, between the soil and mulch, the non-woven material is laid with an intermediate layer. In this case, the life of the mulch is greatly extended: organic mulch decomposes more slowly, and mineral mulch does not mix with the soil.
For what plants: Often, black nonwoven fabric is used in the garden and on strawberry beds to keep the berries clean.
What are synthetic covering materials and which ones are better to choose
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Learn about how to grow plants, what gardening work needs to be planned, you can from other articles on our site... Also, please pay attention to the information block to the left of the text. The links located in it lead to articles of related topics.
Ask an expert in plant protection against diseases and pests Irina Ivanova can be found here >>> .