Why It’s Important to Mulch One Last Time Before Winter Arrives
You mulch your garden during the important seasons, especially during spring. It helps you to suppress weeds, prevent moisture loss and keep the soil warm. If you have to do some modifications to your yard or garden, you can search for “landscape companies near me” and let the professionals do their job. However, did you know that you should also mulch your garden one last time before winter arrives? Here’s why:
- Be ahead of nature – A bit of prep work right before winter can save you a ton of trouble after the snow melts. Adding a layer of mulch or insulating organic matter on the soil helps you protect your delicate flower beds and well into late spring.
It can also help you to prevent weeds from taking root in the dormant state of the plant and protects the roots from freezing over. As time passes, the organic matter of the mulch decomposes slowly and enriches the soil and its micro-ecosystem. Mulching before winter helps your garden, trees, and plants both in the short-term and long term.
- Reduce temperature swings – When winter sets in, there are major weather swings. Alternating cycles of freezing and thawing can leave a trail of destruction on the sensitive root systems of your plants and trees. They are even more vulnerable if you haven’t watered for a long and deep duration. That means the roots spread laterally near the surface and are more vulnerable to these temperature swings.
Mulching before winter helps you insulate these vulnerable roots by raising the freezing point of the soil. It also regulates and evens out temperature fluctuations to minimize shocks to the root systems. That means your plants survive through the snowy season healthier with less stress.
- Soil Enrichment – As mentioned above, mulch is composed of organic matter like dead leaves, wood chips, etc. as time passes, this organic matter over the soil breaks down into useful nutrients like minerals and nitrogen and gets added to the soil.
Mulching before the winter keeps the soil rich in nutrients and allows your plants to create healthier shoots that bloom in all their glory when spring arrives. Mulching one last time before winter also gives food and warmth to the beneficial microbes and earthworms in the soil.
Mulching gives you all-around nourishment and enrichment for the garden’s tiny ecosystem. Make sure that you add the right mulch. For instance, if you have ornamental flower beds, add shredded leaves and pine needles over the soil. For fruit patches and vegetable beds, straw gets the job done, while bark chips work great for trees.
- Protect the perennials – Unlike annuals that have a short life, perennials come year after year. If that isn’t happening in your yard, you are doing something wrong. One of them may be the lack of mulch.
Perennial plants have a portion of their root system lying in the first few inches of the soil. They get stressed out very easily when the ground temperature hits a sharp drop. During the fall season and right before winter arrives, add a layer of mulch around the roots and stalks of your perennials. Without the mulch layer, you also risk frostbite on the roots.
However, mulch made from thick and large organic matter isn’t ideal for perennials. Get finer materials like pine straw and leaf compost so that they protect the roots and also inject the soil with nutrition quicker.
- Weed Control – Weeds are very stubborn and can wreak havoc in your garden if not controlled. It’s especially important to control weeds during the fall and winter months when the plants and trees are less active.
Spread at least a quarter inch of newspaper around plants and exposed ground that needs protection from weeds. Once you layer the newspapers, cover them with a thick layer of wood chips. If you don’t have wood chips, you can use straw, pine bark, and even grass clippings. This layer of mulch will suffocate weeds and cut off their access to sunlight so that they can’t grow and take root in the soil during the dormant season.
- Prevent soil erosion – Wintertime brings showers of cold rain and heavy snow. All that precipitation creates the perfect conditions for soil erosion. Mulching helps you control soil erosion. Mulch acts as a barrier between the snow and the soil. Add a few inches of mulch around your garden beds, trees, and shrubs for protection.
For sloping land, you need some sort of external help to keep the mulch in place. If you don’t need the mulch to enrich your soil and just want to prevent soil erosion, then you can opt for plastic mulch. These contain large sheets of plastic that can also sit over slopes without any problem and will help to reduce soil erosion to a certain degree.
- Re-use leaves – The fall season presents you with plenty of dead leaves both from the trees in your property and leaves flying off from other places into your yard. Even after packing your compost bin full of them, you are left with a lot of dead leaves that you throw away.
Instead, you can use them up as mulch before the winter hits. These leaves are packed with nutrition and can go back to enrich the soil and provide nutrients to the plants they came from. The structure of fall leaves also makes them great insulators.
When you use them as mulch, they create several small air pockets that sit separately from the cold ambient air. This helps you to keep the ground at least a few degrees warmer and prevents the roots from freezing.
Mulching has plenty of benefits and helps your plants survive the harsh winter season. If you need to make some modifications to your property, make sure that you search for “landscape companies near me” and let the pros get to work. After they are done, mulch around your garden and trees one more time before winter arrives.
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