During a long, hot summer, mulch can be the best friend for your garden and your wallet. It’s good for holding back weed growth and stopping your soil from being baked dry by the sun. It also slows down evaporation, saves your plants from drying out and reduces your water bills. It’ll make your garden much happier over summer.
How Much Mulch Should You Use?
It’s good to give your garden a nice, thick layer of protection. Traditional wisdom suggests you should lay organic mulches around 100mm thick. But if you use a little less, say 50mm, you’ll find that your soil is still well protected from the sun but you get much better moisture penetration.
What Mulch is Right for You?
There are plenty of different mulches you can choose from. Some are better at keeping off the heat, others at holding water and some at protecting your plants from extreme temperatures while also providing your soil with nutrients and structure.
There are plenty of different options when you’re looking for organic mulches. When you lay them on thick enough, they’re all great at stabilising soil temperature. Lucerne and pea straw are full of nitrogen and break down easily, giving your soils lots of water-holding organic matter and nutrients. These mulch options are well suited to vegetable gardens and raised garden beds that are up off the ground.
River pebbles, crushed rock and scoria all do a great job decorating your garden and stopping the weeds while helping save you water. They reflect the sun’s heat while letting the water slip straight through to the soil. They’re also good in areas prone to bushfires because they don’t burn.
Low growing plants that spread and give the ground a good, dense covering are brilliant at shielding your soil from the scorching midday sun and keeping your weed growth to a minimum. Plants like these can also help reduce erosion on sloping sites and can’t be kicked out of the way by worm-hungry birds.
Making Your Own Mulch
If you’re pruning a few trees at your place, it’s worth considering buying a mulcher and making your own mulch. If you do decide to make your own, it’s important not to put it straight onto the garden. It needs to age for two or three months to remove its tannins.