lawn care, gardening
Hi Guys, Saw this Article by Maya Albert on the Royal Horticultural Society's web site at http://www.rhs.org.uk
Why don't you all read it and then take a look at the web site - you won't be disappointed - there's a wealth of good material there. terry
Mulches are coverings placed on the surface of cultivated soil. Despite their apparent simplicity, mulches have an amazing effect. They have the following benefits:
Moisture retention in summer; reduced run-off in winter; insulation from temperature fluctuations; weed suppression; encouragement of beneficial soil organisms; pest deterrent; protection of edible crops from contact with soil and risk of rotting. Organic mulches also help provide nutrients and improve soil structure.
They have the following pitfalls:
Extra watering is needed to reach soil through mulch; winter air is colder just above mulched ground than above bare soil; and there is a risk of spreading pests, diseases and weeds.
Chipped bark mulch. Image: RHS
Pebbles used as a mulch. Image: RHS
Slate used as a mulch. Image: RHS
Organic mulches include garden compost, bark (left), woodchip (small risk of transferring honey fungus), leafmould, rotted manure, spent hops, mushroom compost (not around ericaceous plants), cocoa shells, grass clippings (thick layers inadvisable), straw, chopped bracken and even green-manure crops. They breakdown gradually to release nutrients and improve the soil structure. Therefore, they need replenishing every few years.
Inorganic mulches, such as glass, slate (right), gravel and pebbles (centre), have the advantage of lasting indefinitely. However, they do not allow for the addition of organic matter and subsequent benefit to the soil structure.
Sheet mulches, plastic sheeting or woven ground cover fabric for example, are especially useful for new plantings. Although they don’t look attractive it is easy to camouflage them with a gravel or bark covering. Many can last indefinitely - depending on their quality - when protected from the sun and accidental damage. Rain and irrigation water can run across impermeable sheet mulches to permeate the soil at the edges and planting holes.
Laying a bark mulch. Image: Tim SandallLaying mulches
Late winter is an ideal time to mulch as this locks winter rain into the soil.
Beds and borders are mulched in their entirety, taking care not to smother low growing plants or pile up against the stems of woody plants. For new beds, planting through sheet mulches is very effective. Single plants, such as trees and specimen shrubs, are best mulched to the radius of the canopy.
Lay mulches over moist soil, after removing weeds including their roots, when the soil is not frozen.
Inorganic mulches need to be at least 5cm (2in) thick to provide reasonably good results, although 7.5cm (3in) is preferable.
With new plants only apply a mulch after thorough watering.
Terry Blackburn. Internet Marketing Consultant, living in South Shields in the North-East of England. Author and Producer of blog http://www.lawnsurgeon.blogspot.com Author of "Your Perfect Lawn," a 90 Page eBook devoted to Lawn Preparation, Lawn Care and Maintenance. Find it at http://www.lawnsurgeon.com
Article Source: The Royal Horticultural Society at http://www.rhs.org.uk
Terry Blackburn - EzineArticles Expert Author