Mulching

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Thursday, February 13, 2020 - 7:00am

Gary Bachman: Whether you're an experienced gardener or have a brown thumb, you can mulch like a pro, today on Southern Gardening.

Narrator: Southern Gardening with Gary Bachman is produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Gary Bachman: This spring, I've been speaking with lots of gardeners about mulch and the proper ways to use mulch in the landscape. Mulching is a garden activity that has no time deadline. You can mulch in the spring to have a fresh look ready for summer. Or you can wait until the off-season when more time may be available.

Mulch has to allow both air and water to pass freely through it. There are two choices for mulch types. Organic mulches help to conserve moisture. Soil temperatures are cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. And day/night temperature fluctuations are reduced. Organic mulch also breaks down and helps to build a better soil. As such, organic mulches need to be replenished every year or two. Classic organic mulches include pine straw, bark and shredded leaves. Specialty mulches include cocoa or pecan shells.

Inorganic mulches tend to raise soil temperatures in the summer and lower them in the winter, and there are greater day to night temperature fluctuations. Stone and gravel are commonly used, or you can try the products made from recycled tires. Weed barriers or ground fabric are popular to block weed growth from the soil below the mulch. These were initially effective when using organic mulch, but weed seed will germinate and grow in the mulch on top of the barrier. Ground fabric is more effective when using inorganic mulching materials.

There are a few gardening activities that have as much impact as mulching. Mulch reduces erosion, influences soil temperature, helps to control weed growth, and gives your landscape a well-groomed look. I'm horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

Narrator: Southern Gardening with Gary Bachman is produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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