One of the best, and cheapest, drought-resistant measures for gardens is applying mulch. Mulched gardens grow healthier, have more fertile soil, have fewer weeds, and have an overall enhanced visual appeal.
A mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of soil. When done properly, mulching allows us gardeners to spend less time watering, weeding, and fighting pest problems.
Here are some of the functions and benefits of applying mulch:
- mulch insulates the soil from heat
- minimizes water evaporation from the soil
- helps suppress weed growth
- creates a micro-climate near the plant root zone, so it helps for healthy plant grow
- aids in early germination
- organic mulch provides nutrient to the soil after they decompose
- acts as an umbrella in the rainy season and helps reduce soil erosion
- mulch makes gardens look more attractive
- creates an environment that encourages the growth of beneficial micro-organisms
A mulch however is not exclusively organic in nature. It may be organic (e.g. chopped leaves, bark chips, compost, grass clippings, wood chips, weed free hay, shredded bark, saw dust, rice straws and hulls, paper, etc.) or inorganic (e.g. plastic sheeting, gravel, landscape fabric, rubber chips, etc.). Inorganic mulches may be suitable for some areas in your garden, are long lasting and potentially very attractive. But for obvious reasons, inorganic mulches do not eventually decompose and become nutrients for the soil.
Mulch may be applied to bare soil or around existing plants. Mulches of manure or compost will be incorporated naturally into the soil by the activity of worms and other organisms.
A 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch should be sufficient to prevent sunlight from reaching the soil, thereby reducing the chance of weed growth and moisture evaporation.
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