From the productive valley of central California, to the consistent temperatures of Orange County, California has always made gardening easier on us. Now, it is time to make gardening easier for California. Applying three inches of a shredded bark mulch can provide many benefits to the landscape.
Shredded bark is more fibrous than bark chips and holds together much easier. Three inches of mulch helps keep weeds at bay by shading out seeds and preventing seedlings. Organic mulch breaks down over time to improve soil quality. Shredded bark mulch looks great in the landscape as well. But the most important reason to mulch your garden is water conservation.
Shredded bark mulch helps improve the soil quality by breaking down slowly over time. Since it is bark, it has a stronger composition which causes it to degrade slowly. As the mulch is broken down it will improve soil quality by creating macro and micro pores which allow water and air to move through the soil. As the mulch layer breaks down and decays over time it will also add vital nutrients for the plants, just as nature intended.
Weeds and Mulch
Mulching is an effective tool to combat weeds. Here is an example of why three inches is very important. Most of the weed seeds that get covered by three inches of mulch will not germinate. However, you will still get a few that pop up here and there. The seedlings that did make it through the thick layer of mulch now have a very weak root system because it had to reach and wind its way through the mulch to find sunlight. If a few do pop up over the mulch they are now easily removed. The weak root systems make most weeds easy to pull right out, without the need for tools.
Nothing ties the whole landscape together quite like mulch. Often used as the finishing touch on a landscape, shredded mulch can bring extra color and texture to otherwise blank spots. In today’s modern landscapes, less is more and mulch can be the perfect tool for completing this look. The most popular types of bark mulch are shredded redwood, or shredded cedar.
The most important reason to apply three inches of shredded mulch to your landscape is water conservation. By now, most gardeners know that California is in a serious drought. Mulch is one of the easiest ways to cut back on your water usage. By covering the soil with three inches, you are reducing soil temperatures and insulating the soil from the sun. By reducing the temperature, you are significantly reducing evaporation and water loss. Another overlooked quality of mulch is its ability to reduce water runoff and erosion. By having three inches of mulch on the soil surface, runoff water is now slowed by the thick layer of bark. The water now has a chance to soak into the soil, instead of running to the storm drains and into the oceans, often bringing pollutants along for the ride.
All things considered, mulching your garden is an easy way to help maintain soil quality, suppress weeds, bring more color into the garden, and especially to conserve water. Apply three inches of shredded bark mulch to make gardening easier on you, and California.
A few quick tips for mulching:
- Three inches! Any less and it won’t be as effective.
- Apply after! Wait until everything is planted, then mulch.
- Shredded bark instead of chips! Shredded bark holds together easier and is less likely to get carried or blown away.
- Keep the crown clear! Apply the mulch a bit away from the trunk of plants to prevent crown rot, especially for trees and soft fleshy perennials.