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Benefits of Organic Mulch

Organic mulches are mulches that are made from previously living materials, such as pine bark or wood chips. They come in many varieties and textures.

Most gardeners know that a good mulch will help to prevent the germination of weeds, but there are many other benefits to having a good layer of mulch over the bare soil areas in your landscape:

  • Organic mulches decompose over time. This adds nutrients to the top layer of the soil, eventually creating a layer of rich, fertile humus.
  • Mulch protects the soil from compaction due to heavy rains or harsh sun.
  • It helps retain oxygen in the soil.
  • A good layer of mulch helps to prevent erosion by absorbing rainfall and preventing water runoff.
  • Soil stays damp longer after watering or rainfall because mulch helps prevent evaporation. This aids in water conservation during dry periods.
  • Mulch shelters beneficial organisms such as earthworms and ground dwelling spiders that help to control harmful insect populations.
  • Some mulches have scents which help to deter rodent and feline pests.
  • A circle of mulch around trees and woody shrubs helps to protect plant roots near the soil surface from injury due to string trimmers and lawnmower blades.
  • Mulches help to protect the soil from temperature extremes which can damage root systems and cause bulbs to be heaved out of the ground.

Mulch should be laid in a layer no more than 2 or 3 inches deep or it will block air and moisture from reaching the soil causing the roots of plants to come to the soil’s surface. If the mulch layer is less than 2 inches thick, the moisture retaining benefits are reduced.

Summer Mulch

A summer mulch should be applied to the bare soil areas of your property after the soil has warmed in the spring to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Winter Mulch

A winter mulch should be put down in late fall or early winter after the soil has cooled but before it has frozen. This will keep the soil evenly cool and prevent heaving. Remove a winter mulch in spring to allow the soil to warm.

Water Conservation

During times of drought, it is best to water your plantings at the roots with soaker hoses worked into the mulch (and placed on outdoor timers) rather than with a spray from overhead. Overspray wastes water because much of the water stays on the leaves of plants and then evaporates into the air without reaching their roots. Your Southern States dealer can help you choose the right hoses and timers for your situation.