• Fall Mulching: What You Need to Know

  • mulchingAs trees, shrubs, plants, and bulbs move towards dormancy, fall mulching will benefit your plants during the colder months. Mulching prevents erosion, prevents moisture loss, helps maintain a constant temperature, suppresses weed growth, and  keeps your yard looking tidy.

    Mulches can be made of leaves, wood chips, saw dust, compost manure, compost, or straw. Take note that if using leaves, it is helpful to shred them, either with a lawn mower or by other means; this allows the leaves to break down quicker and become readily usable nourishment for your plants. Also, when using leaf mulch you may want to cover with wood chips to encourage decomposition and moisture retention. While any of the above mulches can be used, some mulches benefit certain plants more than others.

    Azaleas and rhododendrons appreciate an acid soil, so 2”-3” of pine needle mulch, or 10”-12” oak leaf mulch is recommended.  Coffee grounds can also be added to the soil to nourish these acid-loving beauties. Weathered sawdust, woodchips, or peat moss can be substituted as mulches as well for azaleas and rhododendrons.

    Roses are surprisingly hardy, and so, the goal of mulching roses is to maintain a constant temperature, and prevent rapid fluctuations between freezing and thawing. When mulching roses, be sure to mulch after the first frost to prevent encouraging a late season growth spurt which would delay dormancy and increase the chance of winter damage to the plant. Water well before adding 10”-12” of mulch around the base of the rose bush.

    When mulching trees avoid mounding mulch around the trunk, especially in young trees as this can prevent water from reaching their developing roots. Instead, apply mulch evenly approximately 2″ deep, leaving a 2″ diameter  bare from the base of the tree trunk.

    Although mulching bulbs is not essential, mulching can extend the time required for the bulbs to send our roots before they go into dormancy, thus allowing them to receive more nutrients and produce heartier blooms in spring.  Compost manure, leaves, or compost placed over your bulb bed can aid in keeping the soil warmer a bit longer.

    Annuals and perennials can benefit from mulching before the first frost. A 2”-3” mulch layer will not only insulate your plants’ roots against freezing, it will also maintain a desirable environment where earthworms and microorganisms can flourish and enrich your soil.

    At St. Matthews Feed & Seed we have many mulch options available. If you have any questions or concerns, please come in and talk to us so that we can help you prepare your trees, shrubs, and bulbs for the cooler months.