Garden soil needs a lot of organic material to keep plants healthy. Adding mulch in fall plays a double role because it protects the soil and infuses it with nutrients as it breaks down towards spring. The right mulch also provides a habitat space for beneficial microorganisms that aerate the soil and make nutrients more accessible. The right time to mulch a garden depends on the type of plant material being mulched and the weather conditions, says Kurt Morrell, associate vice president of garden operations for A, P.
Farm at the New York Botanical Garden. In general, mid-to late spring is mulching season, that is, when the soil warms up due to the freezing temperatures it experienced throughout the winter. Doing it too early will slow down the heating process, which the floor needs to do its job. Morrell also warns against quilting in late fall.
This can insulate the soil and prevent plant inactivity, a much needed hibernation that helps plants survive the cold winter months. Luckily, it often rains in the fall here before the ground freezes. Maintaining a layer of mulch in the garden will trap existing soil moisture and stimulate additional moisture in the form of rain. The best time to apply winter mulch is right after the first severe frost.
By placing the mulch at this time, it will help stabilize the soil temperature around the freezing point. Applying mulch too early can delay freezing and encourage agitation and thawing. Applying it too late can cause plant roots to experience lower temperatures than they can handle. You can further increase benefits by burying a layer of leaf mulch several inches below the ground to decompose even faster.
When you mulch your garden in fall, you create a layer between soil and wind that traps moisture and slows evaporation. My strategy with mulch is this: I never have bare soil in my garden unless I'm waiting for the seeds to germinate. So, before putting away your gardening gloves, challenge yourself to clean at least part of your garden and spend a Saturday crossing fall off your gardening to-do list. If I am planting seeds, I will clean the bed, plant the seeds, and then mulch them again once they are larger in size.
Unless they're very small and you live in a very cold climate where they're likely to die even under a little bit of mulch. Below, we'll describe some of the main advantages and disadvantages of fall mulching, as well as how to do it before winter, to help you decide if you want to add this task to your fall garden maintenance checklist. If you have a tendency to postpone spring planting and gardening tasks because you're busy, then the mulch you place in fall will keep early spring weeds at bay until you have a chance to dig up your garden tools. Not only can this stifle them, but the mulch that is rubbed against a tree trunk prevents it from drying out and can cause illness.
While you may think that adding mulch to your garden beds or landscape seems counterproductive for colder seasons, mulching in fall is actually the most beneficial thing in Canadian climates, as it provides plant protection against frost and winter. Sawdust is an excellent material to cover with mulch and can be free if you know someone who works a lot on wood. If you live in a very humid climate or have problems with snails and slugs in your garden, you may want to use a little more mulch. Leaves break down much faster than hay or straw, so it's advisable to have some back-up mulch on hand for next spring and summer.
Although aesthetics may be low on your list of priorities for your garden, it's worth considering. .