Spreading bark mulch is a good gardening habit because it inhibits weed growth, holds moisture in the soil, moderates the soils temperature, and in cold winters it protects plant roots, but too much or too little could have negative effects. Learning to apply the appropriate amount of mulch to your garden will keep your plants healthy and beautifully appointed.
Bark Unlimited recommends 3” of bark mulch in a planting bed, with an additional ½” to account for settling. Bark mulch holds moisture in the soil, too much mulch will retain excessive amounts of moisture which is unhealthy for your garden, making the soil waterlogged and encouraging harmful diseases in the plants.
Applying too little mulch will not effectively prevent weeds from overtaking your gardens.
Over time your bark mulch will break down or settle. If you need to add more mulch to the existing bed, dig down to determine the thickness and only add enough material to return to the original depth.
Sometimes you may need to remove some of the old mulch due to mold or disease. If this happens, remove the damaged mulch and replace with fresh mulch material to keep the bed healthy.
Mulch protects the soil, but it can damage the stems or trunks of plants and trees growing in the garden bed. Make sure to apply a thinner layer of mulch in areas immediately surrounding plants or trees.
Keep the mulch away from stems or trunks as much as possible. The border around the planting bed needs to stand taller than the soil line to accommodate the desired thickness of mulch. If the mulch is higher than the border it will wash away.
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