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Facts about Mulching and Mulches 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. Applying mulches on bare soil is a common procedure, but they can also be used to cover the surface of compost in flowering and plant containers. Knowing that plants need constant moisture for proper growth, the moisture retention can be achieved by mulching, which makes use of mulches to absorb the water. With mulches covering the soil, these absorb water, coming from rainfall and irrigation, and 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. A mulch layer also slows erosion by preventing water from washing 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. As the temperature drops in the fall and winter, the mulch layer allows the soil to retain heat, and with that, the warm soil allows the plants to grow longer during those seasons, as well as protecting the plants’ roots from the harsh winter temperature.
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The layer of mulch prevents sunlight from reaching into the germinating weeds from the soil to grow and this in effect allows mulching to suppress the growth of unwanted weed in the plant beds and in the garden. 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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Using organic mulch materials, like wood chips or leaves, can help enrich the soil, since mulch break down over time and the decomposed mulch adds the nutrients to the soil in order to feed the plants and organisms that are existing in the plant area which are covered with 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. Applying mulch can be entirely done on garden beds and borders, but one should take care not to smother low growing plants or against 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.