The process of improving the soil around plants using mulches, such as straw, wood chips, leaves and grass clippings, is referred to as mulching and through this procedure, it has also provided a neat and tidy appearance of a garden, as well as reducing the amount of time that can be spent on watering and weeding the garden. Mulches are either applied to the bare soil or to cover the surface of compost in plant containers.
Since plants need constant watering for proper growth, retaining the water can be attained by using the process of mulching, which uses mulches to absorb the water. The function of mulches is to absorb water coming from rainfall and irrigation, as well as they slow down the evaporation of moisture from the soil. The advantage of improved water retention is that the need for frequent irrigation is reduced resulting into a longer spacing for watering the plants, which reduced water consumption. Slow erosion can also happen in mulching since it prevents the water from washing the soil out of the garden.
Because mulch acts as an insulating layer to the soil, the effect is the temperature of the ground is almost maintained, and with that condition, applying mulch during spring and early summer can help control the soil temperature. During fall and winter when the temperature has dropped, the layer of mulch helps the soil to retain heat and the warm soil helps the plants to grow longer during those seasons, while protecting, at the same time, the roots from the harsh winter temperatures.
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The effect of mulching also has the advantage of suppressing the growth of unwanted weed in the plant beds and in the garden, because the layer of mulch prevents sunlight from reaching into the germinating weeds from the soil to grow. Even if the weed seeds grow on top of the mulch layer, they aren’t able to root deeply into the soil, making it almost impossible for them to grow.
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Organic mulch, like wood chips or leaves, when they decomposed are good source of added soil nutrients, which result into more food for the plants and organisms existing in the plant area which is covered by mulch. The decomposed mulch also improve the structure of the soil by adding space between the particles in the soil, such that the added space allows the roots to receive water, oxygen, and nutrients because the soil is not hard nor compact.
Garden beds and borders can be mulched entirely but with careful consideration of not smothering low growing plants or piling mulches up against the stems of woody plants. The ideal way of applying mulch follows this procedure: first remove the weeds including the roots, moisten the soil, and apply the layer of mulch with a thickness between 5 cm and 7.5 cm.