An Introduction To Mulch

A friend of mine recently moved into a new house with what appeared to have been a lovely alpine rockery garden but must have been neglected for years and was covered in grass, moss and weeds. He asked me if I could help him clear it, so on a recent Sunday morning I showed up at his house kitted out with my armory of weeding tools!

We spent the whole morning and a good portion of the afternoon hacking, hoeing, scraping and pulling at the weeds. Once all the weeds had been cleared I left him to rearrange the rockery to his liking and told him I’d advise him which plants to put in next spring.

A few days later he called me in a panic telling me the area we had spent hours clearing was covered in small new “weedlets” sprouting through the cleared earth. That’s when I realised I’d forgotten to tell him to mulch!

What is Mulch

Mulch is a cover spread over the top layer of your soil. The benefits of using a mulch covering include:

  • Mulches helps to maintain moisture in the soil during the summer
  • Mulches help to keep the plants roots from getting too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter
  • Mulches help to prevent vulnerable plants from frost damage
  • Manure and compost mulches will help to feed the plants as they degrade into the soil
  • Mulches are a very useful part of the gardeners arsenal in keeping the garden weed free
  • Certain mulches such as stone or wood chippings have a decorative effect in the garden

So I advised my friend to hoe off the new weed growth and then to cover the rockery with a mulch of his choice. As he’d just moved into the house and was having it re-carpeted he had a load of old carpet lying outside his house.

Old carpet is the best weed suppressing mulch I’ve ever come across. I use it all the time on my allotment. So we spread out the old carpet over the rockery and we will leave it there until the spring.

Next February when we remove the carpet to what I’m confident will be a totally weed free rockery, we will have to decide what mulch we will be using when we plant it up. My next post will be about other types of mulches and the options my friend has for his rockery.

(The picture is of a mulch experiment from my allotment using different kinds of weed suppressing materials 🙂  )

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