When the leaves change and the temperatures start to drop, it is wise to think about prepping your garden and flowerbeds to protect them from the frost of the upcoming winter season. You might be wondering, why mulch in fall instead of spring? Landscaping professionals recommend it, and here’s why: The change in season brings lower temperatures and precipitation that could shock your vegetation. Protecting it with fresh mulch through the winter will ensure roots and plants stay insulated, soil moisture is retained, and it slows the growth of weeds in the coming year.
Mulching also secures a warm environment for microbes and worms to stay active underground, keeping your soil healthy through the winter. Lastly, mulch in the fall means you can skip it in the spring, giving you the bonus of working in your yard in more comfortable weather.
Read on to learn what mulch is, the different types of mulch, fall mulching tips, and resources for garden and landscaping supplies.
What is Mulch?
Mulch is a generic term for a ground cover that protects the soil. Organic and natural mulch helps with moisture retention, weed prevention, and water loss due to surface evaporation. Covering your landscape with at least 1″ of mulch helps provide the soil with added protection from the natural weathering elements. Mulching is a way to mimic nature because it acts as a layer of organic matter on top of the soil. The mulch will decompose over time, providing carbon matter, which feeds your soil. You can choose from a variety of mulch to match your garden aesthetics.
What are the types of mulch and their uses?
There are two basic types of mulch:
Organic and natural mulch works with your soil to improve fertility aeration, structure, and drainage. It is typically composed of hardwood and softwood chips, bark, leaves, grass clippings, evergreen needles, compost mixes, and various other plant byproducts.
Inorganic mulch is ideal for decorative use and controlling weeds. They are typically comprised of rock, stone, lava rock, crusher dust, glass, and other manufactured materials.
Ground Redwood Bark is double ground, fluffy, stringy, and fibrous. Because it holds onto water and is lightweight, it is excellent for indoor, potted plants but is not the best option for outdoor applications or wind-prone areas. It also works moderately well for sloped areas.
Mahogany Chip is great for decorative applications. It is an attractive, processed wood by-product from sawmills and is dyed with a natural UV protectant color called ferric oxide, producing a rich, red color. Mahogany Chip varies in size and is excellent for commercial use or wherever longevity in vibrant color is desired.
Often mistaken for redwood, Mini Mulch is indeed the bark of fir trees. Mini Mulch Fir Bark is a popular mulch for vegetable garden beds. It will decompose faster than larger mulch and eventually lighten in color and turn into an organic soil amendment.
Mocha Chip is produced the same as mahogany chip, and it just comes in a dark black color. Although Mocha Chip will retain its color longer than most non-colored chips, the color will likely wash away when it is exposed to rainwater or sits in water for an extended period of time. Therefore, we suggest installing the chips once the rains have passed.
Playground fiber is engineered natural wood that is 1/2″ – 1″ in size. Made out of California white conifers, the fiber is processed with elongated blunt or soft chopped ends, resulting in less splintering. These fibers do not contain any toxins or chemical additives. No recycled by-products, processed woods, or fillers are used. This mulch is approved for use in playgrounds, parks, or pathways.
Premium arbor mulch is excellent for walkways, native gardens, and sheet mulching. This mulch is high-quality, 100% clean tree trimming from local urban forests. It contains a conglomerate of bark, wood chips, and some leaves, providing protection and food for the life in your soil. This mulch will eventually decompose and will turn into organic soil amendment over time.
Shredded Cedar Bark is a stringy, fibrous bark that ranges in size around 1-3 inches and less. It is a practical, all-purpose mulch for most applications in your landscape.
Small Fir Bark is most popular for general landscaping. The sun fades the natural red bark to a weathered grey over time. This mulch will eventually decompose and will turn into an organic soil amendment over time.
Walk on Bark is mainly a mixture of red/brown fir bark nuggets and cambium. A clean by-product from sawmills, this bark can contain larger pieces of material from time to time. Walk on bark is an economical and beautiful alternative to small fir bark or mini mulch. This mulch works great for pathways and walkways.
Wood Chips are primarily redwood and may contain a small amount of fir that is 1/2″-1″ in size. Great for pathways, walkways, and larger landscaped areas. Because wood chips take a while to decompose, they can be used in areas where mulch is needed to last longer.
Fall Mulching Tips and Why it Matters
By now, you understand that adding mulch to your landscaping in the fall is beneficial. Below are three reasons why and tips to consider when starting the process.
Choose a heavier mulch that can trap air and retain moisture, such as premium arbor mulch or wood chips. You want to apply a 3-inch thick layer to preserve water retention and absorption.
At least a 2-3 inch thick layer of mulch in your garden prevents weeds by thoroughly covering soil and blocking sunlight to avoid them from germinating or coming into contact with the soil in the first place. Read about sheet mulching to get rid of your weeds or lawn!
Mulching in the fall keeps all of your plants intact through a harsh winter. It also adds a pleasing, seasonal look to your landscaping. At our store, we have a variety of mulches, materials, and resources to meet your aesthetic needs.
Taking the time to apply mulch to your landscaping in the fall is the best way to keep it manicured for years to come. Whether you are on the hunt for organic mulch to protect your soil in the winter or inorganic mulch to design your dream garden, Lyngso has the resources and supplies for all of your landscaping needs.