The benefits of mulching in the spring…

Now that spring is almost here you may start looking at your yard and wondering what your next step is to create a beautiful yard. The best time to get your garden ready for the summer is in spring, early March to be precise, depending on location. Now you may or may or not have removed your leaves from your plant beds and borders, either way, that’s okay. Some people swear by leaving the leaves there to provide a protective shield for your soil throughout the damp winter months and others say it’s okay either way. Lets start with the basics…

Basic spring clean-up:

  • Start by removing all the leaves from you landscaped area. Even if you did this in the fall, more have probably blown your way.
  • Cut off the old foliage on your plant life that is above ground.
  • Dig out all the weeds you can see.
  • Cut back vines that are where you don’t want them.
  • Cut back ornamental grasses, including liriope, and the dead stems of flowers if you left them up for the winter to a few inches high.
  • Use a cultivator or gloved hand to loosen the mulch, acorns and other dried plant matter covering the ground around your shrubs and flowers. This allows water and air to easily penetrate the roots.

Starting this process now will help your plant life when they are in full bloom.  If you have spring-blooming bulbs or flowers that start emerging early in your borders, they could be trampled on if this clean-up is done after they’ve already emerged. Or worse, if you wait til your garden has started producing masses of new growth, you won’t be able to see those weeds and out-of-control vines. If you weed now it will reduce your weeding burden throughout the full season.

Mulching 

Applying mulch on top of your garden is the single most important thing you can do for your plant life each year. Mulching prevents weeds, regulates soil temperature, and retains moisture. Plus, as it decomposes over the course of the season and is carried underground by earthworms and other creatures of the soil, it improves soil structure, which means better drainage and better use of nutrients.  A one-inch application of mulch will usually suffice as a fertilizer for most gardens.  When it comes to mulches, nothing’s better than good old leafmold mulch because it decomposes over the course of one season, which is a good thing because it improves your soil. The more attractive mulches like bark and hardwood chips aren’t as helpful because they last a long time, which is a bad thing. Like weeding and leaf removal, mulching is a job that’s easier to do before new bulbs have emerged, especially if they’ve just popped up and are hard to see.