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Spring Mulching: Expert Tips for Beds & Trees

Spring Mulching: Expert Tips for Beds & Trees

Benefits of Mulching with Soil Improvers

Generally, we prefer to mulch the surface of the beds, borders, and even pots and planters once or twice a year using a top-quality heat-processed multiuse soil improver. Whilst some may consider digging the soil improvers into the soil, we find that surface mulching provides a trickle-down longer lasting feed of the soil allowing the plants to gently take up the food whilst allowing worms and insects to break it down into the soil.

Other benefits include:

  • Help soils retain moisture.
  • Reduce watering.
  • Suppress weeds.
  • Improve soil organic matter.
  • Provide nutrients.
  • Deters some pests.
  • Helps to warm up soil in spring.
  • Protects plant roots from extreme hot and cold temperatures.

Choosing the Right Mulch

The mulch entirely depends on the type of plants, if you have a bed full of ericaceous plants then a suitable ericaceous mulch should be the choice however a good quality balanced product will have the desired effect on all other plantings. 

Mulching Techniques for Flower Beds and Trees

We apply a generous even application to the beds of a minimum of 2-3cm, yes it seems a lot but in a few weeks, it will have disappeared breaking down in the soil and doing its thing. Keep in mind that with trees what you see above the ground is mirrored below, having said that you should avoid mounding up the soil improver around stems nor trunks.

Mulching Perennials

Most plants, including perennials, benefit from having mulch around their roots year-round. Organic mulch like shredded bark, hardwood, or pine straw makes gardens look more polished. Inorganic mulches like small stones or gravel can also be used, but they will not have the added benefit of enriching the soil since they do not break down. Stone can be useful in very windy locations where lighter mulch tends to blow away and is sometimes used on steep slopes where lighter mulch would wash away. Just be aware that if you decide to switch from stone mulch to organic mulch, removing all those stones is time-consuming.

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Whichever type of mulch you use, it is important to prevent it from touching the crown (base) of the plant. Spread your mulch carefully so that it lays nicely under your plant’s foliage but away from the crown. When mulch touches the crown, it is an invitation for plant rot and pest issues.

Should you be living in an area of hard frosts or a localised frost-pocket and should you plant any perennials or shrubs in the late Autumn be sure to lay a 4-5cm layer of mulch around them to prevent frost heaving during the winter months. The mulch will moderate the soil temperature so it remains consistent throughout the winter.

Perennial gardens benefit greatly from having a layer of shredded leaves placed over them in late fall or early winter after the plants have gone dormant. When you are raking earlier in fall, shred and bag some of your leaves to use for this purpose. By spring, the shredded leaves in your garden beds will have mostly broken down and their nutrients will enrich the soil.

Mulch Application Timing

In London, it can be at any time but it’s good to get a generous application down in the late autumn before the winter arrives to protect delicate perennials’ crowns and roots and the spring to give a boost as all the plants start to take off. Pots and planters should have a steady supply of mulch throughout the year as potted plants and shrubs use up their nutrients extremely quickly.

Mulch Safety Considerations

We only use a certified heat-treated graded soil improver that is guaranteed to not include weed seeds, plastics or pests. 

Carefully choose your blend of soil improver to suit the demands of your plants and the location, A fibrous mulch is better for use under trees and in deep beds where you both want to dress and feed the beds with a longer-lasting product.  

Lastly, be warned, every so often we encounter a garden owner in London despairing over their decision to buy cheap raw untreated Horse manure after a knock on the door, as after a week or two their garden is taken over by a forest of country weeds that will require lots of time to manage. Please don’t do it, there is a reason it’s cheap!

See also  Winter Mulching: Your Complete Guide