Use of mulches in a garden is a very important factor for most all gardens. It helps to conserve water, a vital resource, and it reduces weed competition. As it degrades, it will provide necessary nutrients that can be recycled into the soils for future plants for their fertility.
The mulch that we have is recycled pallet mulch. It adds a lot of benefits for gardens here in southwest Kansas. When you apply the mulch, timing is very important. Be sure that you know the type of plants that you have. Many of our plants love warm soils. If you apply the mulch too soon in the spring, particularly annual bedding plants, you may find that the mulch is keeping the soils too cold.
Or, it may be retaining too much moisture. Then, you won’t have ideal conditions to get a great root system started. So, you may need to wait a few weeks for the spring temperatures to warm up the soil.
Most of the native plant materials, such as perennials, can benefit from year-round mulch. And, as you plant your plants out in the middle of a vast area such as this, you can easily define where your paths are.
As far as reconditioning the mulch over time, it wouldn’t take much to come in and give it a light topdressing to refresh the look of the mulch, and to also compensate for any natural deterioration of the mulch that’s in contact with the soil surface.
A two to three inch depth is ideal for most mulch. If you’re mulching under a permanent area, such as a tree or shrub, you can go up to a four inch depth, and have a good, deep mulch around those plants.
This feature story prepared with Dean Whitehill, Kansas State University Research and Extension Agent, Finney County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.