A Beginners Guide To Mulching

November 17, 2016
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A Guide to Mulching:

Mulching is a technique used by many gardeners, not only does it save time it also has many other benefits to your garden. You can mulch your garden beds and borders as well as your vegetable patches. At Gravelmaster we know that many of our customers simply don’t have the time to spend maintaining their garden therefore mulch is an ideal way to cut down on the upkeep of your garden. This guide will provide you with some handy tips on mulching and some inspiration on the different types of mulch available.

mulch inspo



Why Mulch?

Mulching is generally used to improve the soil for plants, mulching can also help retain moisture and heat in the soil this creates a perfect environment for your plants to grow. Mulching can also help keep your garden neat and tidy, as well as helping to reduce the amount of time spent watering plants. This is perfect for gardeners that are looking to create a low maintenance garden. Mulch is also fantastic for preventing weeds from growing in your garden beds and borders. This has great benefits as it prevents your beautiful display from being ruined. In Winter mulch is especially advantageous as it can help protect your plants and its roots from harsh weather conditions and frosts. You can be as creative as you like when mulching, many mulches give a decorative finish that will complement your overall garden design.


The Different Types of Mulch:

Mulch can be split into two main categories; biodegradable and non-biodegradable both having their own benefits.

Biodegradable Mulches:

These types of mulches gradually break down over time to release nutrients into the soil. This can help contribute to healthy soil that is perfect for seeds and plants to be planted in. Biodegradable mulches require more maintenance as you will have to monitor the mulch carefully, once it has fully rotted down you should replace it with another layer.

Typical types of biodegradable mulches include:

  • Leaf mould – See our how to guide here
  • Garden compost
  • Wood chippings
  • Conifer bark
  • Rotted hay
  • Straw (for strawberry plants)
  • Seaweed

leaf bin

Non-biodegradable Mulches:

Non-biodegradable mulches do not help to improve the fertility of the soil however they do successfully suppress weeds. Non-biodegradable mulches are also ideal at preserving moisture and helping to keep the roots of plants warm. Many of these mulches have the advantage of being decorative therefore adding a touch of style to your garden. Sheet mulches on the other hand do not look very attractive however can be covered with gravel to create a stylish look. If you are considering using a sheet mulch you should ensure it is permeable allowing rain water to reach the roots of plants.

Typical non-biodegradable mulches include:

  • Slate
  • Pebbles
  • Cobbles
  • Gravel
  • Sea Shells
  • Tumbled Glass
  • Sheet Covers


Cotswold Chippings

When to Mulch:

Mulching should be carried out from late summer and throughout Autumn. You should look to spread a generous ring of mulch around newly planted trees, shrubs and plants in your garden. In early Winter your thick layer of much will have many benefits especially for delicate, vulnerable plants. The mulch will also help protect roots and plants from the frost and any potential wet weather.

The best time to mulch your entire garden beds and borders is in the Spring, this will allow you to retain the moisture from the wet weather and ensure that the beds do not dry out over the summer period.

How to Apply Mulch:

When mulching you are able to mulch entire flower beds and borders as well as shrubs and other plants. When you carry out your mulching be careful not to suffocate low growing plants. Follow the next few steps to on how to mulch effectively.

  • First you should check to make sure your ground is free from weeds and the soil is moist. If necessary you should add water to the soil as it may prove difficult once you have mulched.
  • To be effective biodegradable mulch needs to be laid around 5cm and ideally 8cm thick.
  • Begin to lay the mulch over your moist soil and around plants, leaving a little gap around the stems of the plants. Make sure you include the roots of any plants.
  • You should then rake the mulch to ensure it is level.


Top tips for Mulching:

Below we have listed some top tips which you should bear in mind when mulching. These will ensure your mulch is remains effective.

  • Before applying the mulch you can add a fertiliser to the soil. This will ensure biodegradable mulches do not steal all the nitrogen from the soil
  • Make sure to provide your plants with additional water. Once you have mulched it is much harder to reach the roots of your plants.
  • Do not remove mulches when it comes to fertilising, you are able to spread your fertiliser over the mulch these are then washed down to plants roots.
  • You should only reapply the mulch when you see a spot that requires it. Be careful not to apply too much mulch as this will make it hard for you to water plants
  • Ensure that your mulch does not have contact with the stems of any trees as this can cause the stems to soften leaving it vulnerable for disease.


We hope this guide has provided you with some helpful hints and tips when mulching your own garden. At Gravelmaster we love receiving customer photographs, if you have mulched your garden bed or border send us a photo to sales@gravelmaster.co.uk and we will feature it on our Facebook page.


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