Like the rest of you, as I was getting about that age, my parents sat me down to have the “talk”. You know the one I’m talking about: the talk about mulch.

What’s that you say? Your parents never talked to you about mulch? Well, that just won’t do! Buckle up, kiddos, it’s time to go to school. Mulch school.

What is Mulch, Anyway?

We might as well start with the fundamentals here. What is mulch? At its most basic, mulch is simply a material used to cover the soil. And why would you want to cover the soil? Well, there are a few different reasons for that.

First, it helps to prevent weeds from growing, which in turn has two benefits. Not only will you see fewer unsightly weeds, but there will also be less competition for nutrients for the plants you actually want growing there. Laying down a nice bed of mulch will save you the labor of pulling out weeds all summer long.

Mulch also acts as a form of insulation that helps to regulate the temperature of the ground. This is particularly important during the transitional seasons of spring and fall, where the air temperature can vary wildly from day to day and hour to hour. It’s also helpful in the summer and winter to guard against more extreme temperatures.

Do you like spending time and money watering your plants? I don’t either, and that’s yet another reason I mulch. Mulch helps the soil retain moisture for longer, which means less watering and less worry about the drier seasons.

If you’re using organic or hardwood mulch, and you should, it will also contribute to the health of your garden by breaking down and adding its nutrients to the soil. Naturally, this means that you will need to add more mulch from time to time, but that’s a small price to pay.

Finally, mulch looks really nice. I mean, just look at it. It’s beautiful.

Getting the Most Out of Your Mulch

Now that we’re all on the same page about the benefits of mulch, let’s talk about the best way to use it.

To start, you need to select which type of mulch you want to use. Your options here are much richer than you’re likely imagining. Mulch can be anything from nicely ground cedar chips to grass clippings or even old newspapers. Mulch can be either organic or inorganic. Inorganic mulch has the benefit of staying put and not breaking down as fast, but it doesn’t add nutrients to the soil like organic mulch can.

Once you’ve selected the mulch that will work and look the best for you, it’s time to apply it. Before you start dumping mulch down, however, I suggest taking an additional step and adding a pre-emergent weed prevention treatment. Once the soil is covered with mulch, it makes it more difficult for weeds to take hold.

Once you’ve got the initial treatment taken care of, it’s time to add the mulch. Spread your mulch out to a depth of three to four inches. If you’re using wood chips, you may want to add another half-inch to that to account for settling over time. This depth is ideal for inhibiting weed growth.

And, that’s it. You’ve successfully mulched. No doubt your friends and loved ones will want to hear all about your accomplishments. I suggest that you brag about it on the social network of your choice with all due haste.

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