Garden affairs

Soil mulching: what it is, basic uses and types of garden mulch


Professional gardeners and growers do not need long to prove the benefits of such a procedure as mulching. It is not difficult to imagine that the mulch is approximately the same as a blanket for a sleeping person - at any temperature and in any weather you feel much more comfortable under this blanket. Mulching is used in different climatic regions and on different soils, the process consists in covering the surface of the earth layer on the beds with the help of natural or artificial materials. Only aisle or the whole area of ​​the beds can be mulched.

Feature of mulching

Mulching is not a new invention of agronomists at all, conclusions about its effectiveness and necessity were made by people observing the natural conditions of planting. Since in the meadow or in the forest under the grass, trees or bushes you can never see the open soil - because there is always a layer of dried grass, pine needles, leaves.

This shelter is a reliable protection that can prevent the cracking of the earth, its drying out, the overcooling of the root system during significant frosts in a snowless winter. During heavy rain, the ground does not erode under the mulch and the root system does not become bare, and the soil crust does not appear. Surely the shelter does not allow the rays sun directly affect the soil and accelerate the evaporation of water from it, it also prevents the development of various weed crops.

Using mulch beds, you can significantly reduce the number of irrigations and avoid frequent loosening of the earth.

Since the usefulness of this process is beyond doubt, it is necessary to consider how to mulch the earth and which materials are best to use during this. It should be noted that there are quite a few options, each gardener will be able to choose an economically feasible way, which at the same time is quite easy to implement with his own hands.

The use of artificial materials

For land mulching, the material may be of artificial origin or natural.

Gardeners recognize that it is convenient to apply for soil cover:

  • lutrasil
  • plastic films, multi-colored or black,
  • roofing felt or ruberoid.

During the application of data covering materials used this technology:

  • on the beds spread the canvas, mark to perform seedlings holes,
  • seedlings are planted in the holes.

There is one feature: in contrast to oval or round slots, transverse or longitudinal, make it possible to protect the soil to a greater extent from the evaporation of water, at the same time, they will not create an obstacle to rainfall.

To mulch the ridgeBlack squash film can be applied to zucchini or cucumber. The same is used for mulching strawberry beds - and the berries will be clean and will not have contact with the ground.

The most interesting thing is that for the beds with tomatoes it is desirable to use an opaque red film, and for cabbage - white. The red color begins to provoke accelerated ripening of tomatoes, and white - will not allow excessive warming of the ground, the correct temperature regime is very important for the development of cabbage.

Apply a transparent film is not advised, since high humidity and penetrating light of the sun will begin to provoke the active development of weeds.

Respectively, polyethylene film for mulching it is necessary to select, considering such criteria:

  • proper strength
  • the ability to primer to fit snugly, that is elasticity,
  • opacity

The use of polyethylene film for mulching makes it possible to increase the temperature of the earth by about three degrees, which is important in the northern regions in conditions of a short summer, and also softer the daily temperature difference. In hot weather, the film, on the contrary, will begin to contribute to a decrease in temperature.

That is, the film:

  • will save garden crops from drought,
  • will provide an opportunity to organize the protection of vegetables from excessive heat and cold,
  • will help save money on the purchase of chemical means for the destruction of weeds, in particular wheat grass, loach, sow thistle,
  • will save your time on loosening the earth
  • on strawberries and strawberries almost the appearance of gray rot,
  • prevents land compaction after precipitation, for example, after growing strawberries under plastic wrap on the plot for several years, the earth will remain loose,
  • makes it possible to provide the root system with the necessary amount of air.

Also, film mulching helps to increase the fertility of the land:

  • increases the percentage of humus in the ground,
  • under the safe shelter of polyethylene film, beneficial microorganisms develop more actively,
  • seedlings of weedy plants under it rotten, saturating the earth with nitrogen.

With the arrival of frost on the ground, the mulch film creates protection, which, in turn, warns the freezing of the root system of plants, the more important this time is for strawberries and dwarf apple trees, since these crops are not frost resistant.

The disadvantage of covering artificial material is its inability to additionally provide power to the earth and aversion to decomposition. Therefore, experienced gardeners prefer to lay out the mulch of natural origin, for example, humus, and then cover it with a nonwoven cloth or film.

Varieties of Organic Mulch

During the selection of covering material gardeners often prefer natural, which are able to:

  • decomposing, saturate the fertile layer of the earth,
  • reduce the development of weeds,
  • provide overheating or freezing protection of the root system,
  • retain moisture in the soil.

However, to obtain the desired results, you need to know how to use a certain type of mulch.

Dried grass

For mulching, material can be obtained by staving a tomato, removing weeds or mowing wild herbs, and mowing lawns. It is precisely the torn off stepchildren that must be used for cabbage mulching, since the sharp pungent flavor will scare away the main pest of the vegetable, the whitefish.

Apply freshly mowed grass is not advised, it is best to slightly dry them in the sun, as fresh grass is often subjected to decay.

If in the southern regions the beds can be mulched even before planting garden crops, in the northern regions, well-warmed earth is closed with grass, in which the vegetables have already grown and grown.

By all measures, compost is considered an ideal shelter material, safe and suitable for all garden plants. Compost can provide a certain protection of crops from diseases and create high-quality bait for them.

In addition, laying a pile of compost from leaves, tops, various organic wastes, paper and shavings makes it possible to solve the problem of waste disposal. It is quite possible to create high-quality compost in just a year, during its correct laying.

To cover the ground under the tomatoes and potatoes is best to use straw. Its large layer will be able to create an excellent barrier between pathogens that are in the ground and leaves of garden crops, this will not allow the appearance of early decay, anthracnose and leaf spotting. Also, the straw will not allow mass infection with Colorado potato beetles. Straw also has a positive effect on blackberries, strawberries and garlic.

Wood bark and sawdust

Since the bark of the trees is one of the waste products of the woodworking industry, it is quite simple to get it. This is one of those materials that allows long-term use - tree bark has the ability to repel water, so the decomposition process in it is rather slow. It is beneficial to apply the bark when it is necessary to mulch the soil around trees and shrubs.

If tree bark is obtained from coniferous crops, then tomato is not recommended to use it on flower beds, the release of volatile aromatic substances will be harmful for tomatoes.

In addition to other advantages, the wood bark mulch has a rather decorative appearance, the bark can be used as a flower bed decoration - this is useful for garden crops and beautiful. To date, crushed bark in the design is often used as a decorative material.

Other waste products from the woodworking industry, such as wood chips and sawdust, are also very popular for the preparation of a layer of mulch. Mulching of land with sawdust is best performed in the event that this piece of land is rarely processed and not dug up. Just rotting the chips, usually lasts for several years.

Mulching chips are often used for beds with raspberries, plots with tulips or garlic, which are planted for the winter.

The excellent effect is shown by mulching with strawberry sawdust, but in this case it is not possible to use compressed material under any circumstances. Anyway, these filings must be well dried and straightened with a thin layer before use.

Even needles are used for mulching, as a rule, on eggplant plantations and strawberry beds.

In some cases, gardeners refuse to use needles, fearing that it may cause an increase in soil acidity. However, it has been proven in practice that mulching with needles for three years did not lead to a change in acidity.

Fallen leaves

They are also considered a good mulch material, they can be used on bean or cabbage beds. The leaves are used during the cultivation of garden crops such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, but the mulch can be laid in case of sufficient warming of the ground.

Leaf mulch is the best material for bedding:

  • bulbous plants will not have time to germinate during the first spring thaws, this will protect them from frostbite,
  • in case of severe frosts, it will reliably protect the root system.

Experienced gardeners advise apply combined materials, for example, a mixture of:

  • peat chips and waste that were obtained during the cleaning of sunflower or pumpkin seeds,
  • humus and reeds
  • fresh grass with sawdust
  • wrapping paper and straw,
  • freshly cut grass and cardboard.

Layering layer mulch should be approximately 5-12 cm.

Paper or newspaper

Packing kraft paper, cardboard or newspapers can be prepared and applied in crushed form or sheets, but the paper layer must have the necessary thickness, at least the corresponding sheet of the newspaper in four layers. This shelter can provide protection from sprouting weeds, to improve the efficiency of the paper layer is covered with hay or straw, you can also cover it with soil.

There is an opinion that printing ink can cause harm, however, scientists assure that any of the paint components used in modern printing houses, a garden or a garden can cause no harm.

The use of kraft paper or cardboard sheets instead of plastic film makes it possible to increase the temperature of the earth by several degrees over several days. This fact is quite important during the preparation of the land for planting seedlings.

It is noted that mulching of beds with paper with raspberries and legumes significantly affects the increase in yield.

The need for mulching in the greenhouse

To date, agronomy has proved that land mulching in greenhouses shows a positive effect, in particular:

  • gives you the opportunity to abandon weeding and at the same time maintain a good breathability of the earth,
  • reduces the amount of watering and reduces the amount of water used directly for irrigation,
  • with noticeable changes in air temperature makes the temperature of the earth more stable,
  • reduces the risk of diseases of tomatoes and cucumbers,
  • helps to get rid of weeds.

In greenhouses, the same natural materials that are used for open ground can be used as mulch, the laid layer must be at least 6–9 cm thick. It is advised to leave a small amount of free space directly around the stem - it will be easier to water the plants.

When mulching the soil, do not forget that in spring this process should be started only after the ground has warmed to the depth of the wells for planting, otherwise germination of garden crops can slow down considerably. And do not trust the recommendations of non-professionals in the choice of mulch.

Soil mulching - what it is and why you need it

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Soil mulching is a method of laying a layer that will play a protective role and prevent the intensive growth of weeds, as well as protect the bed from drying out and the imbalance of water and air in the upper layers of the soil.

What is beneficial soil mulching?

The main advantages of soil mulching include:

  1. Reducing the number of irrigations, because the soil retains moisture much longer.
  2. A layer of mulch helps protect the roots from overheating, wind, and cold. Plants are much easier to tolerate the effects of frost and heat, because temperature drops occur for them less sharply.
  3. Mulch is a nutrient substrate for earthworms, and also helps retain nutrients in the soil.
  4. A layer of mulch prevents the spread of weeds and frees the site owner from weeding the site.
  5. This method helps to significantly increase the yield, because the layer is well protects the leaves and stems from the occurrence of rot.
  6. Mulch has a positive effect on the Ph of the soil, adjusting this indicator, making it either acidic or alkaline.

Ways to mulch the soil

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The main methods of soil mulching include the following:

  1. covering the beds with a special covering material (agrofibre) or black film,
  2. soil sprinkling with organic materials
  3. sprinkling beds with compost.

Watch the video! Mulching land with freshly cut grass

What type of mulching to choose?

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The choice of the type of mulching is directly dependent on the climate and the goal pursued by this procedure. It may be:

  • weed control
  • soil fertilizer,
  • reducing the amount of watering.

Types of garden mulch

Mulch can be divided into two groups: organic and inorganic. Organics are a valuable source of beneficial nutrients that are released during the breakdown process. The material includes coatings such as bark and chips, compost, needles and cones, mowed grass and leaves, sawdust, straw, ground cover plants and siderates.

The inorganic mulch materials include: pebbles, expanded clay, crushed stone, perforated film, agrotextiles.

Each of the materials has its advantages and disadvantages, which we describe below.

Effects from the use of organic

1. Compost is the most effective natural mulch that has a neutral reaction and can be used for all types of horticultural crops. This type of organic is ideal for mulching roses and perennials.

2. The function of mulching pine needles is to increase the acidity of the soil, so the material is perfect for atsdofilnyh cultures that require planting in the soil with an acidic reaction. The needles are used for hydrangeas, azaleas, rhododendrons, heather, conifers, blueberries. If there is a need to reduce acidity, then use beech bark.

3. Bark mulch can be bought at any garden store. The most commonly used bark is pine and spruce, as well as some hardwood trees. At first, the coating slightly acidifies the soil, but under the influence of weather factors, over time, the pH stabilizes at a level close to neutral. The main advantages of pine bark: it slowly decomposes, enriches the soil with humus and improves its structure, and its main advantage is to suppress the growth of pathogenic microorganisms, mainly pathogenic fungi.

4. Submerged leaves have a weak acid reaction. They do not look too neat as mulch, but are a good conditioner for the soil.

5. Wood chips and sawdust are more suitable for mulching trees and shrubs. They are recommended to be composted for 1-2 years before use. Recently, ready-to-use colored chips have appeared on the market, which, in addition to the protective function of mulching, has a decorative effect, allowing you to create interesting compositions. The color of the coating lasts 3-4 years. Ее можно использовать для невысоких хвойных культур, компактных невысоких кустарников и многолетников.

6. Скошенную траву перед применением высушивают и используют между рядов ягодных и овощных культур, защищая их от гниения. Shredded plant mulch siderats that enrich the earth with nitrogen and other trace elements are used fresh. Especially useful is the mulching of nettles, stalks of legumes, green mustard mass, and lupine.

7. Straw mulch does not decompose very quickly and retains heat well in the soil, therefore it is perfectly suitable as a covering material for the winter period. It has a pH close to neutral, but poor in nutrients. In the season it is used mainly for mulching strawberries, cucumbers.

8. Many ground cover plants play the function of a mulching material and are often planted around low bushes, roses, and tall perennials. This “live” natural mulch includes the styloid phlox, the stonecrop, thyme, etc.

9. Cones mulch is a magnificent natural material that does not prevent air from entering the soil, protects it from weed growth, overheating in the hot summer period and prevents moisture evaporation.

Effects of the use of inorganic material

Their advantage is durability and the possibility of long-term use, but this material has no effect on the condition of the soil.

1. Pebbles, crushed stone, granite and marble chips are almost as popular in garden design as pine bark or wood chips. This durable material is often used to create rock gardens, gravel gardens, rock arias. On sale you can find a large selection of this type of coating of different colors and sizes. Stony mulch has a high decorative qualities, helps prevent weed growth, raises the temperature of the soil in the summer, which is useful for growing heat-loving plants.

2. Black and color film accumulates heat, protects the soil from evaporation of moisture and eliminates pests and weeds better than organic matter.

3. Agrotextiles are the most commonly used synthetic soil mulching material, since it allows water, air and nutrients to pass through well.

4. Perforated films provide better aeration and moisture, protect from pests. Used mainly in spring to protect young seedlings from frost.

When and how to mulch

The optimal time for mulching is early spring, when the soil is already thawed, contains a lot of moisture and is free from weeds. Before pouring the mulch, the soil must be loosened.

The organic material used should be wet, loose and fragmented. It is poured evenly over the entire surface of the earth, forming a layer about 5 cm thick around low ornamental plants and 8-10 cm around trees and large bushes. The procedure performs its role only in the case when the thickness of the mulch is at least 3-5 cm.

Watering the plants around which you poured a layer of mulching material is not necessary often, but copiously.

The next time the procedure is carried out in the middle or late fall, creating a high layer of mulch around the root neck of plants that are sensitive to freezing. During this period, the soil is still warm and saturated with moisture after the autumn rains.

Cons of mulching

We have already listed the functions of this procedure, but this agricultural technology has some minor drawbacks. In early spring, heavy clay soils should remain uncovered for a longer time in order to warm up quickly. In wet gardens, organic mulch can attract slugs, and in winter mice and other rodents in a thick sheet and straw bedding can make nests.

As you can see, the benefits of mulching far exceed the individual disadvantages of this procedure.

Mulch Varieties

Experienced gardeners know how to preserve the water balance of the soil and make it more nutritious for plants, so they have a richer crop and the type of garden crops is much more alive than on “bare” beds. The secret of this is high-quality care, which consists not only in watering and loosening the soil, but in fertilizer and mulching. To preserve water after watering, it is necessary to lay a layer of special material around the trunk of a tree, shrub or garden crop. Mulch is divided into several categories:

  • Organic. This group includes compost, which is very useful for plants, it protects the surface from the formation of a hard crust, loosens the soil and increases its level of fertility. This list includes all organic matter: straw, grass (preferably without spikelets with seeds), sawdust and shavings, shredded bark, husks of sunflower seeds, lawn, peat, old leaves, conifer needles or cones, waste of cereals and other products that have organic origin.
  • Inorganic. In this situation, we are talking about artificial matter: plastic film, geotextile, cardboard, thick paper, expanded clay. This basis is more decorative in nature, especially stone, gravel, rubble, sand, etc. The film or agrofiber is often used on strawberry beds, they do not give a chance to survive the weeds and do not allow the mustache and root baskets to take root, creating a solid carpet, but fine retain moisture. Inorganic is more valued for its protective function against weeds and dirt, but does not contain nutrients.
  • Traditional Mulch - it is hilling friable soil near the root zone of seedlings (dry watering). This method is good in the heatwave period, but it has its drawbacks: the lack of fertilizers, reduced fertility due to frequent loosening, which leads to a disturbance of the soil structure.

All methods of protection are good in their own way and can have negative sides, but their presence contributes to a larger crop. For each type of coverage there are rules that will help you correctly position the flooring and fit the climate of the region. Improving the structure of the soil and protecting it from the sun by adding certain materials is what it means to mulch.

Agrofibre and film flooring

The best representative of the inorganics is a black film, it isolates the penetration of light to the soil cover, and accordingly it prevents the germination of weeds. It is often used to shelter the land around strawberry bushes and for industrial purposes when growing vegetable crops in large volumes.

The film must be exclusively black or any other dark color, so the moisture evaporates more slowly and the growth of grass slows down. But in this method there are a number of negative factors:

  • The film is a seasonal material, under the influence of sunlight the material quickly becomes unusable and deteriorates.
  • Under the coating it is necessary to distribute the drip irrigation system.
  • Polyethylene does not let the air through, which means that the roots find it harder to breathe and in hot weather there is a high temperature, similar to the effect of the bath.
  • In especially wet places slugs form and there is a wonderful living space for snails. They will have to fight, otherwise they will eat the whole green part of the plants.

In addition to the film, gardeners use a special fiber, which is not inferior to his relative. It can be a geotextile, a fairly inexpensive one, but a high-quality product with excellent sun-absorbing properties does not let through weeds and retains moisture evaporation. Unlike polyethylene, agrofibre passes air and water, allowing the plant to breathe and receive food without a specific irrigation scheme.

Organic Laying Rules

While the inorganic material does an excellent job with weeds and moisture protection properties, organic mulch has a nourishing function and is more beneficial for seedlings.

Each type of organic matter must be laid correctly:

  • Bark, needles and shredded cones are stacked with a thick layer under trees and shrubs, the shelf life is from three to five years. It is worth noting that the bark has tannic properties and acidifies the soil during decomposition, slowing the growth of plants, such a coating is suitable for coniferous and cypress trees.
  • Leaf humus is taken only from healthy plants that do not have fungi and various diseases, so as not to infect the entire garden. As a reinsurance, you can treat the foliage with antifungal agents and only then add the leaf part to the compost. The benefits of such a substrate is obvious - nutrition, enrichment of soil with oxygen, loosening and gradual decomposition.
  • Straw and hay - a great option to protect many garden crops from the burning sun. Grain waste is covered with tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, strawberries and other berries and shrubs. This material is so suitable for all plants and does not peroxidate the soil like needles. It is possible to take even weeded weeds, but not having spikelets with seeds.
  • Compost is a compound of humus and green grass mass. Such a mixture is an excellent fertilizer for plants gaining green mass: sorrel, lettuce, greens and herbs, lawn, clover. The mixture is fed seedlings for the winter and cover during the summer, but the layer of the substrate should not exceed 2 cm, otherwise there will be rot, causing the roots to begin to sweep.
  • Sawdust is the best option to preserve the harvest of potatoes and tomatoes. The material is well saturated with water and keeps a certain microclimate for a long time, makes the soil loose and fertile, but you should pay attention to the compactness of small cuts, otherwise fungus and mold will be formed.

The result of soil improvement and yield increase will occur in the second, third year, subject to frequent mulching. The specialists recommend laying a bed of 7–10 cm of mulch on garden beds and watering it so that the soil is well wet and can retain moisture for a long period.

Mulch application periods

Terms of soil mulching begin in the spring and last until late autumn. The first laying is carried out after emergence of shoots, the earth is sprinkled with sand, peat or small humus, more dimensional plants (shrubs, trees and berries) are covered with a large substrate. The embankment is renewed every two weeks, because organic matter quickly decomposes and is recycled by worms.

The final stage of the introduction of mulch is considered to be the autumn cover, which protects the roots of seedlings from severe frosts and fertilizes the land with decomposed microelements. In this case, wood ash, bone meal is an excellent option, and for the berryberry, crushed walnut shells, chicken eggs, bark or large chips. A place for vegetables would be good to cover with fallen leaves.

Autumn layer of the mound is 5−8 cm, after making the mulch is not compacted and not perekapayut. With the arrival of spring, the non-perennial parts of the cover are removed, allowing the soil to fully warm up, and after planting, sprinkle again.

How to make a substrate yourself

As a shelter, you can use a normal weed, cleared of seeds, cut the grass on the plot area or buy ready-made straw from farmers. If there is a farm on the plot, then there will be hay, it can also be used. Sawed trees or dry branches (raspberries, currants, fruit seedlings) can be processed with the help of a garden shredder that copes with the task, and turns the raw material into chips.

For the winter, you can chop up or lay up the whole shoots of marigolds, they have high antifungal properties, quickly perepravayut, fertilize and disinfect the soil. But do not use manure, in winter all nutrients are washed out of it and it does not bear any benefit, it is better to use it in summer, for this purpose mullein will do.

Those who like to nibble sunflower seeds are also in the positive, the sunflower husks are an excellent regulator of moisture, they let air and water through perfectly, allowing oxygen to flow freely to the roots of the plant.

To oxidize the soil in beds with sorrel, carrots and other crops, pine or spruce needles are taken, but in small quantities, otherwise there is a risk of acidification of the cover. Pine needles can be taken in the near forest or forest belt, but away from the road, because the green part of the plant absorbs toxins and carcinogens.

Types of soil mulching

Shelter soil from the sizzling heat can be done in 3 ways:

  • traditional mulching
  • organic mulching
  • inorganic mulching.

Traditional Mulching applied constantly. This is the usual loosening. It is also called dry watering. Loosening after watering or rain keeps the soil layer under it for a longer time wet and cool, and during the dry season it reduces the evaporation of moisture from the soil. Loosening destroys weeds, increases the flow of oxygen into the soil. But such mulching has, in addition to the positive, also a negative side. Frequent loosening destroys the soil structure, does not contribute to increasing its fertility.

Organic Mulching - it is the shelter of the soil with organic materials remaining after carrying out certain agrotechnical measures.

Inorganic Mulching - it is a soil covering with materials of rocks or industrial production.

Materials used for organic mulching

Natural organic mulch is considered the best covering material for soil under garden and garden crops. Organic mulch includes all agricultural waste: straw, sawdust, mowed grass, peat, shredded bark of trees, wood shavings, chips, fallen leaves, humus, mature compost, needles, waste of flax, sunflower, cereals, fallen cones. Mulch are beveled siderats, hay, shredded eggshells, manure and other materials.

The use of chips for mulching

Useful Properties of Organic Mulching

Organic mulch covers the soil from overheating (in summer) and freezing (in winter).

In hot weather, covered with mulch, they reduce the temperature of the soil in hot weather, which protects it from excessive evaporation of moisture and prevents the formation of post-irrigation peel.

If the soil around the seedlings is covered with a 5-7 cm layer of mulch, then the weed shoots (especially annual ones) will decrease several times. Perennial weeds that sprouted through mulch (quinoa, yarrow, euphorbia) can be cut at the level of seedlings, the main thing is to prevent their flowering and insemination. The garden with such care, of course, will lose its elegance, but will gain health.

In the half-cut weeds, the bushes of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants will soon take root, gain the necessary organic mass and proceed to the formation of a crop that will be sheltered from sunburn. There is a group of malicious weeds (field bindweed, wheat grass), which grow quietly under the canopy of mulch. But there are fewer of them and you can walk with a chopper, turning the mulch between the rows.

During the summer, mulch, gradually decomposing, will enrich the soil with nutrients and humus, which will attract beneficial soil microorganisms and worms. The soil will become friable, more breathable. Under sagging mulch, the leaching of the upper layer by rains and weathering due to the wind will decrease.

The use of coniferous mulch can slightly increase the acidity for some crops (sorrel, chicory, potatoes, radish, tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin). You can slightly alkalize the soil with hay, sawdust of broad-leaved species for peppers, beets, onions, parsnips, celery, asparagus.

Recently, they began to actively use small mulch from the husks of sunflower and grain crops. Such mulch practically does not stick, freely passes air and water, its multilayer creates a lower temperature, and slow rotting gradually enriches the soil with nutrients.

Illicitly applied organic mulch can have a negative impact on the soil. So, its large layer in rainy wet weather is a good home for molds and other fungal-bacterial infections. Large mulch (long stalks of weeds, sunflower, pieces of cardboard) is a cozy dwelling for snails, slugs and other pests. Therefore, pick up the mulch and use it should be carefully, taking into account the structure of the soil, its composition, crops.

Planting pepper with straw mulch

Materials for inorganic mulching

Inorganic mulch includes natural materials - gravel, pebbles, sand, crushed stone, as well as waste brick and other industries. Soil coating with polymer film, agrofibre, sackcloth, expanded clay is a kind of mulching, designed to choke weeds and improve the quality of care for cultivated plants. Thus, on strawberry plantations, industrial fields of vegetable crops, black film and agrofibre are used to suppress the growth of weeds, retain moisture in the soil, protect the soil from overheating, and enable harvesting clean products.

Usefulness of inorganic mulch

The main role of inorganic mulching is also covering the soil in order to protect cultivated plants from sizzling heat, preserve moisture in the soil, and suppress the growth of weeds. Use inorganic mulch to make decorative our gardens and villas. It is very pleasant to look at the beds-boxes: inside there are green healthy plants, like a flower bed, and around the path there are colored pebbles, sand, crushed stone, crumbs of broken brick and other improvised materials.

Naturally, the use of inorganic mulch as an agronomical technique is necessary. Однако злоупотреблять ее применением не стоит. Уйдет мода на короба и останется мертвый гравийный участок вместо плодородной почвы. Ведь неорганическая искусственная мульча не повышает плодородия почвы, но значительно ухудшает ее физические показатели.

Мульчирование речной галькой

Посыпание почвы мульчей

The use of small organic mulch for plants is most useful, and in terms of its effect on the soil it is closest to the natural processes occurring under the shelter of the mulch. Peat, humus, sawdust, chips easily pass water and prevent its rapid evaporation, protect the soil from drying out in drought. Decomposing, they enrich the soil with humic substances. Therefore, plants under mulch require lower rates of fertilizing and watering.

Why do you need it

The benefits of this procedure for cultivated plants are beyond doubt.

  • Mulching saves moisture in the soil layernecessary for plants for normal development.
  • It prevents erosionIt prevents the earth from crusting, leaving it breathable.
  • Soil structure is loose. Air flows freely to the roots, and loosening can be done much less frequently.
  • The soil retains a certain temperature in summerwhich is comfortable for plants. The upper layer does not overheat, there is no risk of burns or root paring.
  • In cold weather, the earth is safely protected from freezing.that allows perennials to survive in the winter.
  • The soil is not washed out in the fall and spring under a layer of mulch flood and rain and not blown away.
  • Mulch prevents weeds from growing, significantly reducing their number, which has a beneficial effect on the culture medium for cultivated plants.
  • Moisture does not evaporate from the groundso you can water the garden less often.
  • Under the coating creates a fertile layer., which can significantly reduce the rate of fertilizer. In addition, the decomposition of organic mulch allows you to organize a favorable environment and help the plants to fully absorb useful substances from the soil.
  • In addition to utilitarian functions, there is also a decorative. Today, many different mulching materials have been invented, with which you can easily create a diverse garden design.

So why do you need mulching? To free gardener time for other work or rest, without prejudice to the plants, and even to their advantage.

All the mulching materials, which currently exist more than two dozen, are divided into two broad categories: organic and inorganic origin.

The discussion about which kind of materials is better is being conducted constantly both among specialists and amateur gardeners. The choice of category depends on the goals to be achieved by mulching, and on the place of application of the material in a particular culture.

When mulching any materials you need to follow an important rule - it is carried out only after the soil warms up well. If you put mulch on a cold soil, the effect will be opposite to the expected - the plants will develop poorly, their growth will slow down.

Organic materials

This group includes the following:

  • cut grass,
  • seedless weed plants
  • cut siderata,
  • hay dry or straw,
  • foliage of fruit or ornamental trees,
  • pine needles, fir twigs,
  • sawdust or shavings fines,
  • bark or multi-fraction chips,
  • ripe compost
  • well rotted dung
  • peat,
  • moss or sod,
  • husks from seeds, nuts, buckwheat, corn stalks and other waste.

All organic materials are different from inorganic in that they are able to fade in the soil and turn into nutrients that saturate the plants, form a humus layer and increase the fertility of the soil.

Organic mulch is considered by many to be the most useful and the only one usable. But there is one nuance - when some of its varieties rotten, nitrogen is drawn out of the ground. It is needed to activate the process of rotting sawdust, bark and shavings. Of course, the plants lack nitrogen.

Organic mulch has drawbacks (just like inorganic). For example, if it takes away nitrogen from plants, it is necessary to shed the soil under infusion of manure, litter or urea under a layer of mulch to replenish it.

Wood mulch (sawdust)

Sawdust can eventually agitate and cause the plants to rot.

There are restrictions on the use of bark, wood chips and foliage of non-fruit trees. For example, it is better not to use birch and oak trees at all, or to use them only for conifers. The high content of tannins in them can damage the garden and garden plants, hindering their development.

Birch and oak mulch can be used for decorative conifer. They like it when acidification of the soil occurs, and they are not afraid of tannic constituents, since growth in coniferous forests is already slowed down.

But back to the beneficial properties of organic mulch. Large sawdust and wood chips scare slugs. They are not comfortable to crawl on them, and if you mumble the beds with these materials, the slugs will leave your garden, despite the presence of tasty plants.

Grass mulch

Also slugs do not like straw. If you put a layer of fine straw (hay) about 12 cm, after shrinking, it will give an ideal covering, about seven centimeters high, which is able to completely and environmentally friendly protect your plants from all misfortunes.

Plant waste - weeds, grass, removed from the lawn, the remains of siderats are very well suited for mulching not only between the rows, and pristvolnyh circles of fruit trees. It is not recommended to lay this type of coating on beds. Mulch should eventually decompose, and mowed grass and weeds will quickly dry in the sun, and will not have time to decompose. If you wish, you can cover the soil with herbal vegetable mulch in the fall, before the rainy season. Then by the spring you will have a good fertile layer.

Pine and spruce needles - the best material for hiding beds. It looks very decorative and promotes healthy growth of flowers.

Humus and compost

This species is rightfully ranked first in the ranking of organic materials for mulching.

The rotted manure has a single drawback, more precisely, a feature of use that needs to be taken into account. It has a dark color, so it attracts heat. If the site is in a sunny place, and the plants on it are planted are not particularly thermophilic, it is better to choose a light mulch.

Moss and turf

Used mainly for the garden, arranging sodding in the near-stem circle of fruit trees and shrubs. You can cover the ground with ready moss taken from the forest, either with pieces of sod, or by planting any ground covers. Such a mulch will grow to the soil and will be durable. In addition to preserving moisture and insulation for the winter, it will save the garden from erosion and increase the amount of nutrients in the soil.

Leaf mulch

It is necessary to treat the fallen leaves with care. It has already been mentioned above that the foliage of oak and birch will not be of great use to garden and flower plants. In addition, the foliage can become a peddler of fungal diseases, which will be transmitted by cultivated plants through the soil, or, spread by the wind, spread fungal spores throughout the site.

Foliage in its pure form, if there is a suspicion of the presence of fungal diseases, it is better not to use it for mulching. But it can be processed by special means, put in the compost. And when it turns into a nutrient fertilizer, mulch the garden with compost.

Inorganic mulch

This category includes materials such as:

  • film,
  • nonwovens
  • pebbles, crushed stone and gravel,
  • coarse sand,
  • paper and cardboard waste,
  • expanded clay.

These materials have no nutrients, and they do not decompose, forming humus. Therefore, their properties are limited to protective and decorative. But since they do not rot, are durable and do not lose their properties and appearance for a long time.

Inorganic mulch is mainly used in floriculture and gardening. Garden beds, which need constant treatment, do not fall asleep with gravel or gravel, as they interfere with cultivating the soil.

Gravel and gravel

Bulk inorganic materials are usually used as decorative mulch in flowerbeds, rose gardens, alpine slides. Also they can fill up the paths and tree trunks of shrubs and trees. But keep in mind that between the stones, no matter how tightly you put them, weeds will sprout anyway. It is necessary to think in advance about how to remove them in the future.

Film and non-woven cover

Black film retains moisture well and also protects cultivated plants from weeds, because it inhibits their growth.

But watering is difficult. It has to be carried out manually, getting exactly in the film holes left for the growth of plants. You can conduct automatic drip irrigation under the film, but it is not easy to control the level of soil moisture.

Under the film or non-woven material, if the humidity is high, slugs can accumulate that will damage the young shoots.

Black film has another major drawback - it increases the heating of the soil. In extreme heat, the roots of trees in the ground can "burn out" or melt away if overheating is combined with high humidity.

The film is used for mulching plantings of potatoes, tomatoes, garden strawberries. It is desirable to use it in a pair with a straw, with which the film is covered from above.

Read more in our other article: Planting strawberries under black covering material

How to cook mulch?

It is not necessary to buy ready-made mulch material, especially of organic origin. You can cook it yourself. To do this, it is enough to have a lawn-mower with a nozzle-grinder for grass on the farm.

A garden shredder is used to make mulch from twigs, bark, wood waste, needles, straw or leaves. They can recycle various garden waste, turning it into a useful mulching material.

How to mulch?

The process of making mulch starts in May, and in some areas in early June.

  1. The soil heated by the sun is freed from debris, weeds and their roots.
  2. Then the ground is leveled, slightly compacted.
  3. The next stage is a thorough watering, it must be done before mulching. If you mumble on dry land, the water will be hard to reach the roots of the plants.
  4. Mulch applied with a layer of a certain thickness. It depends on the material. If it is bark or sawdust, that is, a dense material, a layer of 5 cm is enough. Lighter, such as foliage and needles, is applied with a layer of about 7 cm.
  5. When mulching trees, especially if organic is used, you do not need to fall asleep tree trunks - over time they can begin to rot.

The choice of mulching material depends on your way of horticulture, crops that are grown, other conditions. But, despite some drawbacks of certain types of materials, in general, mulching is a very useful process for plants. In addition, it saves time, which would have to be spent on additional care for plants.

If everything is done according to the rules, the material is chosen correctly, the garden and the garden will be beautiful for many years, and the plants will be healthy and fruitful.

The use of black film or agrofibre

To mulch the soil, you should use a black film; in no case should you choose white, transparent or blue material, since only black material helps to stop the growth of weeds.

Important! The black film perfectly retains moisture, the soil moisture under it is constantly maintained at the same level.


Agrofibre is a new material that is used to mulch the soil. It consists of a perforated non-woven material of polypropylene fibers. The porous structure of the material helps to easily pass air, water, protect from weeds and scatter light.

Where can black foil be used for mulching:

  • The film can be laid between the rows of peppers, zucchini, corn and cucumbers.
  • This material can be lined with trees and shrubs.
  • Black film is also often used in greenhouses to prevent rapid evaporation of moisture and reduce the humidity in the room.
  • The material is perfect for protection from mice.

Types of mulch for the garden

A huge number of types of mulch use gardeners on their plots, the most common include:

  • The shell of pine nuts is a very light and durable material for soil mulching, it does not lose its useful properties for 5 years. Its use for the soil is quite high, since the pine nut shell makes the soil more loose.
  • Mown grass - this type of mulch should be mowed grass, not simple weeds from a vegetable garden. Mowed grass mulching is performed in the greenhouse, on beds, in flower beds, around trees.
  • Peat - as the mulch is used only the highest quality types of lowland dark brown peat, which does not have large patches. This material is perfect for processing berry bushes. The material can also be used for mulching both clay and sandy soil, for planting peppers, eggplants and tomatoes.
  • Fallen needles - the disadvantage of this material is that it is not very durable, quickly decomposes. Use fallen needles can be for processing beds with strawberries and eggplants.
  • Sawdust hardwood - mulch from sawdust hardwood trees do not contain resin, so it is often used for processing beds. Before using them, the material should be dried. It should be borne in mind that sawdust affect the increase in soil acidity. Sawdust it is recommended to sprinkle the paths between the ridges.
  • Husks from seeds - mulch, made from this material, crumbles on the site with a layer of 2-3 cm, the husk perfectly retains moisture in the soil.
  • Foliage and leaf humus - for carrying out mulching only foliage of healthy trees is used, most often birch, linden, maple. You can mix it with other types of mulch. This material is used to shelter beds with strawberries, garlic, peonies or onions.
  • Straw - the material obtained after the procedure of threshing of cereals. Mulch of this species is well suited for processing almost any plants or shrubs.
  • Spruce and pine cones are an excellent mulch for plants that love to grow on acidic soil, as well as for coniferous crops. Cones do not seal and not compacted, differ in volume and ease.
  • Wood chips - this material as mulch can be used for planting of any kind, as well as for decorative purposes.
  • Bonfire - is part of the hemp stalk, which remains after the scutching. It is possible to use the material for mulching any vegetables grown in open or closed conditions. ground, retains moisture well, fertilizes the soil and inhibits bacteria and fungi.

Useful! As mulch, you can use compost or subdued manure.

How to mulch the soil

Regardless of which type of mulch is chosen, the following requirements must be observed:

  1. Can not hold mulching on wet soil after rain or watering.
  2. You should not tamper the mulch either, the material should remain loose and lie flat, with a uniform thickness of about 5-10 cm, depending on what type the soil is, on clayey - about 2 cm.
  3. Before the procedure, one should dig up and loosen the soil, remove all weeds.
  4. The beds where the berries grow should be covered with a layer of mulch constantly.
  5. In the summer months it is necessary to use dry and green mulch.
  6. Tree trunks should be mulched grasstightly closing bark trees, layer thickness should be about 5 cm.
  7. Manure for mulching is used constantly, it should be used in small quantities, as mulch should not use pork manure and bird droppings.
  8. Mulch beds of prehraya straw before sowing is not worth it, because it can significantly inhibit the growth of plants.

Interesting! The higher the fertility of the soil, the faster the process of decomposition of mulch and its transformation into humus.


For a rich harvest, should be properly carried out soil mulching and take into account the advice of experienced professionals.

Watch the video! Why and how to mulch the soil

Soil mulching - what is it and why should it be done?

Mulching is an agricultural technique, which consists in laying a protective layer of any material on the soil surface, protecting it from excessive weed growth, drying out and imbalance of water and air in the upper layer.

Soil mulching with black film or agrofibre

The soil mulch film must be black, not white or transparent, because only black film stops the growth of weeds.

Moisture is well preserved under the black film, so the soil moisture under it is kept at the same level.

  • Where can black foil be used for mulching?

It can be laid between the rows of zucchini, peppers, corn and cucumbers.

Cover young trees or shrubs.

Черную пленку для мульчирования часто применяют в теплицах, она предотвращает испарение влаги и уменьшает влажность воздуха в закрытом помещении.

Пленки хорошо защищают урожай от мышей.

Покрытие почвы укрывными материалами.

A mulch film is more practical with partial soil cover. So, temporary mulching between rows with black film increases the yield of cucumbers, zucchini, sweet pepper, corn by 20-30%, in early spring contributes to the rapid heating of the soil, which allows for an earlier harvest. Young saplings, black mulled film, take root faster.

Continuous mulching with film or agrofibre is used more often when growing products on an industrial scale (strawberry plantations, cabbage fields). With such mulching, the need of plants for nutrients is sometimes reduced by a third from the norm of fertilizers in open ground. However, in this case, it is necessary to fertilize the soil before mulching (covering) the soil with film or agrofibre and practically do not feed it later or use foliar dressings.

Cover materials should retard light. Under transparent materials weeds continue to grow together. Using cover materials in the household, you need to consider that under the canopy of film and other shelters the soil is depleted in organic matter much faster. In suburban areas, the use of inorganic mulch should not prevail over the use of organic. Artificial covering material is more practical to use in the warm season and to clean for the winter, and the natural mulch can remain on the garden or plot, rot and add organic matter to the soil in the form of humus and other organic compounds.

Mulching Rules

The main soil mulching is carried out 2 times a year: in autumn and spring. Each of them will be effective only if the required rules are followed.

Autumn mulching is carried out after full harvest. Around the beginning of mid-October, when the microorganisms are still actively working, and the weeds are gone or go to the winter dormancy.

For the garden and the berries as an autumn mulch is better to use coarse and dry material: bark, shavings, nutshell, peat. The garden plot is mulched with manure, humus, leaf litter and other softer materials.

Before mulching it is necessary to prepare the soil:

  • remove dry tops, weed residues, parts of pruned branches,
  • to fertilize
  • dig them into the soil by digging or surface loosening.

Dry soil must be watered and wait until the irrigation water is completely absorbed. Dry soil, especially in the garden and the berries, can not be mulched, because moisture is not always in sufficient quantities will then go to the roots.

Autumn mulching is carried out with a layer of 5-8, sometimes up to 15 cm. Mulch is not trampled down.

Shaded areas in the garden and in the garden mulch a thin layer of Bole than open sun.

When mulching podzimnyh crops (garlic), leave a gap between a number of plants and mulch. In the garden, the tree trunks are left free from mulching. The area of ​​mulching covers a circle across the diameter of the crown.

Spring mulching is carried out after warming the soil in the root zone within + 12 ... + 14 ° С. Mulching of cold soil (with early sowing of carrots, planting seedlings of early cabbage) will prolong the period of warming the soil and can lead to compaction of the upper layer, which is especially dangerous for early crops.

  • During the growing season of plants, the best time for mulching is after watering or other tillage (loosening, feeding, spraying).
  • If agrotechnical measures involve digging, the summer mulch, together with autumn litter, weeds, and healthy foliage, are buried in the soil.
  • If the garden is cultivated without digging and the mulch remains in the garden beds, in the spring it will temporarily shift to the side in order to warm up the soil, and then return.
  • If the soil under the layer of mulch does not freeze through, then in the spring it is not touched, and the planting and sowing lead directly to the layer of semidirectional mulch. After all spring treatments, the soil again mulch, forming the next layer of semi-decomposed organic matter during the summer. The soil is enriched with organic matter, its fertility grows, and the layers of mulch inhibit weeds, causing their death.
  • When soil is mulched, weeds that do not germinate through mulch are prevented from seeding by cutting off tops with inflorescences. But even if the seeds fall on the mulch, most of them without soil will not be able to germinate. Weeds will die.

Thus, the plot is gradually cleared from weeds. Under the mulch, the soil structure will improve, be saturated with organic matter, worms, and beneficial microflora. Plants in this soil will always be in a comfortable environment.

Organic Mulching. © Marie Iannotti

The main mistakes when mulching

During the growing season it is impossible to lay a large layer of mulch during the wet period: putrefactive processes may begin.

Do not cover plants with a high layer of mulch. The roots will not have enough oxygen and light, diseases will begin.

It’s useless to mulch dry soil in windy weather: mulch can be blown away.

In the spring, the uncleared mulch should not be left on the garden bed. She will delay warming up the soil.

In the fall, mulch is applied for tillage or in future row-spacings in order to accumulate moisture in little snowy and arid regions.

To preserve the winter moisture in the soil, as soon as the top layer dries out and you will be able to enter the garden, you need to free the soil from the old mulch, plow up to 8-10 cm and re-mulch the loose layer. Otherwise, the soil will begin to thicken and warm worse. When planting heat-loving crops in insufficiently heated soil during the return spring freeze, the plants may die.