Mulch in garden decor
Mulch? Mmm…, mulch… — this is how my consciousness reacted to this term, like somewhere, once heard, but I don’t remember exactly what …
So it was until I grew my first own tomatoes in my life. Now I know that mulcha — a thick (up to 10 cm) layer of soil cover made of organic or inorganic material, designed to protect the soil from overheating and excessive drying out.
The traditional purpose of mulching is to protect and enrich the soil around plants.
The secret of mulch lies in the fact that with a sufficient thickness of its layer, a protective organic «fur coat» is created on the soil surface, which breathes, passes rainwater well and at the same time prevents its rapid evaporation. The air gap between the components of the mulch prevents overheating of the soil, and a thick layer does not give a chance for weeds to grow.
If straw bedding is made under the bushes of garden strawberries, then the grown berry will delight you with its clean sides and the absence of the need for thorough washing.
In the decorative garden and mulch, it is customary to make more advanced requirements. Here, artificial cover is also expected to have the properties of a decor that has a given color and texture.
The use of this material is resorted to to a greater extent because of the decorative qualities. But stone placers conscientiously perform all the functions of mulch (unless they are fertilizer).
Gravel material is especially good in garden compositions using large stones, but it also looks great in flower beds. A monochromatic coating is the best way to set off the green foliage and bright colors of flowers.
Organic mulch is divided into decorative and simply functional covering. Coniferous and leaf litter, straw, manure (horse or rotted cow), uprooted weeds (without seeds), mowed grass do their work properly.
The usefulness of such mulch lies in its nutritional properties. However, it is good only for the garden, because the appearance leaves much to be desired.
All the best properties (protection, decorative effect, nourishing effect) are absorbed by decorative organic mulch.
The material for the manufacture of wood mulch is the bark of trees, wood chips (waste for sawmills), ground pine and spruce cones, shells of cedar, walnuts and hazelnuts.
Within 2-3 years, organic flooring rots and becomes the most nutritious part of the soil. After that, an update of the mulch cover is required.
In order to make a layer sufficient for mulching the site, it is necessary to purchase a considerable number of bags of organic decor. That is why, with a relatively low cost of the bag, in the end, mulching becomes a rather financially intensive process.
This is not at all a reason to refuse it — you just need to think about making your own mulch. To make sure that mulching garden plots is necessary, let’s turn to listing all the advantages of this gardening technique.
The mulching pillow has a thickness of 8-10 cm. This is quite enough to:
- andhrelieve you of problems with weeds — light does not pass through a thick layer and plant growth is impossible under a mulch cover; but weed control “steals” a lot of time that you could spend on a more pleasant activity;
- create protection of the soil and the root system of plants from temperature fluctuations — in summer from overheating, in winter from freezing;
- establish aeration of the soil — the soil under the mulch does not cake and does not form a crust;
- maintain soil moisture saturation and reduce the frequency of irrigation — 73% of water remains in the soil without evaporating;
- protect the soil from weathering and leaching;
- remove toxins from the soil — woodchip mulch is an absorbent material that absorbs and then evaporates harmful substances;
- reduce soil disease; increase the population of earthworms, which are producers of biohumus;
- and, finally, to ensure the accuracy and high decorativeness of your landings.
Mulch from tree bark remains in its original natural color. The bark of coniferous trees is used for its manufacture.
If you live near a pine forest, then a very practical move would be to purchase a garden waste shredder, in which you can process the collected bark and cones.
Hand-broken bark and whole cones are also suitable as mulching material, but will be “absorbed” by the soil a little longer.
Most effective as a nutrient for conifers, rhododendrons and heathers. Coniferous mulch contains fungal mycorrhiza, a natural growth stimulant.
Decorative wood chips does not saturate the air with the resinous aroma characteristic of the bark, but that is why it is an ideal material for arranging playgrounds. After all, the processed chips can no longer leave splinters or scratches on the skin.
In addition, chopped wood chips are easy to color (they divide it on special colorizers) and decorate the soil around green spaces with it. And after lying down for a couple of years, it will turn into an ideal organic fertilizer.
The raw material for wood chips is the waste of deciduous trees. The production process of this decorative material takes place in several stages: first, wood “dust” is sifted out, then the wood is crushed to a size of 3-5 cm, small fractions are sifted out again, and the finished wood chips are painted.
When purchasing this product, be sure to ask about the quality certificate for the dye. It must comply with environmental safety standards and, importantly, be resistant to ultraviolet radiation and water. Otherwise, your garden composition will take on a very unsightly appearance, and the puddles after the rain will have a completely indefinite color.
The main rule when mulching with any material is not to fall asleep on the root neck of plants, otherwise the trunk (stem) will rot.
A favorable moment for mulching is the end of spring: the soil has already warmed up, it is still quite saturated with moisture, but the top layer has already dried up.
Clear the area of weeds and debris, fertilize the soil and if it is dry, be sure to properly moisten. Wait until moisture is absorbed and start mulching.
Previously, the top layer is loosened to a depth of 8-10 cm and immediately a backfill of mulch with a thickness of about 8 cm is made from above.
Make sure that the soil is not waterlogged, otherwise it will cake under the mulch.
If mulching is done with gravel backfill, then its “getting used” into the soil can cause you a lot of inconvenience in the future. Therefore, the soil is covered with a layer of lutrasil, geotextiles (a synthetic non-woven material that allows moisture to pass through, but prevents the stone from mixing with the ground).
For the subsequent fertilization of the soil, it is enough to irrigate with a dissolved substance. Organics in the form of manure are brought under a layer of geotextile, for which the mulch layer is first removed.
Fertilizing an area with organic mulch is not required, except for the occasional application of mineral under the root (there should be no mulch).
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