The best time-saving measure a gardener can take is applying mulch. This goes for everywhere from vegetable gardens to flower beds. Mulched gardens grow healthier, have fewer weeds, and resist drought than unmulched ones. Done properly, it’ll allow you to spend less time watering, weeding, and fighting pest problems.
How to Mulch
There are two cardinal rules for using mulch to combat weeds. First, lay the mulch down on soil that is already weeded, and second, lay down a thick-enough layer to discourage new weeds from coming up through it.
It can take a 4- to 6-inch layer of mulch to completely discourage weeds, although a 2- to 3-inch layer is usually enough in shady spots. If you know that a garden bed is filled with weed seeds or perennial roots, you can use a double-mulching technique to prevent a weed explosion. Set plants in place, water them well, then spread newspaper and top it with mulch.
Mulches that also retains moisture (like wood chips) can slow soil warming. In spring, pull mulch away from perennials and bulbs for faster growth. A wet mulch piled against the stems of flowers and vegetables can cause them to rot; keep mulch about 1 inch away from crowns and stems.
Mulch piled up against woody stems of shrubs and trees can also cause rot and encourages rodents (such as voles and mice) to nest there. Keep deep mulch pulled back about 6 to 12 inches from trunks.
Bark Mulch in MA