The Benefits Of Mulching: Why I’ve Been Doing It For Years

The Benefits Of Mulching: Why I’ve Been Doing It For Years

There are so many benefits of mulching your garden beds. I’ve been putting mulch on my gardens for many years. Let me share with you the benefits and the different applications.

In a nutshell, mulching is great for your soil. Plus, it saves water and time by suppressing weeds and slowing down evaporation.

Let’s look at all these benefits in more detail.

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1. Mulching Reduces Weeds

Nobody wants to spend their entire weekend pulling up weeds in the garden, do they? Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy doing a spot of weeding every now and then. It gives me time to chill out and think and I get great satisfaction from seeing a weed-free garden bed.

But, there are plenty of other things to do in the garden. Therefore, the less time I have to spend weeding, the more time I have for planting, tending, pruning, propagating and harvesting.

That’s exactly why I love to add plenty of mulch to my garden beds.

Why I Love Mulch

Let’s give you an example. When I moved into this house in early 2020, the garden had been sorely neglected for a very long time. It was covered in weeds.

Fortunately, one day when I was out doing some weeding, a tree pruner was in the street and he was looking for anyone who wanted some mulch. I immediately went out to speak to him.

Lucky for me, he dumped his load on my front nature strip and said I could have it for free! This is a good tip to remember.

Tree pruners make their money by charging customers to prune their trees. Once the truck or trailer is full of mulched-up tree bits, they have to discard it so they can continue their work. Quite often, if you want this mulch, you can get it for a small fee or even free.

Here’s a before and after shot of a small area of my garden. See the difference a bit of mulch makes?

Before Weeding & Adding Mulch
After Weeding & Adding Mulch

You see, adding mulch over your soil stops sunlight from getting to the surface. This means that weed seeds simply can’t grow. You will get some weeds coming back over time but these will be super easy to pull up.

2. Mulching Saves On Water

Putting a layer of mulch on the soil reduces the rate of water evaporation. This means your soil will retain moisture for much longer. In turn, this not only saves you water but also the time that you would have spent watering the garden.

Even those of you who only grow your plants in pots can benefit from using a little mulch. Obviously, you won’t need a truckload of it. But don’t worry. You can buy small bags of mulch from your local garden centre or even online.

Alternatively, you can use some of those lovely coloured stones and pebbles that are readily available. These not only help with keeping the soil moist but they also look attractive.

3. Mulching Keeps The Soil Temperature Even

Adding mulch to your garden beds is like putting a blanket over the soil. The mulch will keep the soil cooler in summer and warmer in winter. This is great if you live in a hot climate or you want to garden over winter.

Of course, the mulch won’t keep the snow away if you live in a region that has snowfalls in the winter. But, if you live in a milder climate and add a layer of mulch on top of your soil, your plants will be much happier and it will stop the roots from freezing.

4. Mulching Helps To Condition The Soil

The good thing about mulch is that it’s organic matter. That means that it will eventually break down over time and add lovely nutrients to the soil.

So, if you have heavy clay soil, like I did in my last house, after about 12 months you’ll find that you now have some excellent topsoil that you can work with.

Even sandy soils benefit from this addition of organic matter. The organic matter will mix with the sandy soil and make it less porous. This means that water won’t leach away as quickly.

5. Mulching Can Reduce Soil Erosion

Soil erosion happens when there’s heavy rain. The rain washes the topsoil away. Unfortunately, this soil can end up being washed down the drains into local waterways. This is not ideal for these natural ecosystems.

Adding a layer of mulch to the soil stops the rain from hitting the soil surface directly. Hence, it keeps the soil in place under the mulch.

Another benefit of putting mulch on your soil is that it stops the soil from splashing onto the leaves of your plants when it rains. This reduces the risk of bacterial and fungal diseases.

6. Mulch Can Also Be Used To Define Your Garden Beds

Generally, I don’t add a lot of mulch to my vegetable beds. If anything, I would use straw or sugar cane mulch as this breaks down much faster and adds organic matter to the soil.

What I do, however, is outline the beds with tree mulch or wood bark. This creates walkways between the beds and suppresses weeds.

You can also use mulch in other traffic areas in your garden. It’s much cheaper than putting down concrete, bricks or gravel. And, mulch is lighter to spread as well. Plus, it looks good!

7. Adding Mulch Makes Your Garden Beds Look More Attractive

I don’t know about you, but I simply love the appearance of a freshly mulched garden bed. It somehow looks neater and more attractive. It just gives your garden that well-looked-after appearance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the four advantages of mulching?

1. Mulching suppresses weed growth
2. The mulch will reduce water evaporation from the soil
3. Mulch will keep the soil cooler in summer
4. As the mulch breaks down it adds valuable nutrients to the soil

How often should you mulch?

As most mulches tend to break down quite slowly, you should only have to top them up around once a year.

Do you remove old mulch?

It’s not necessary to remove old mulch when it comes time to replenish it. The old mulch will continue to break down and add nutrients to the soil.

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Final Thoughts

So now you know at least 7 benefits of mulching your garden beds. Not only does it help with water retention and weed control, but it helps to condition your soil as well.

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