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» How to Mulch Your Garden in the Winter

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During winter, my neighbors can’t help but admire my beautiful garden. They keep asking how I do it. Because apparently winter brings nothing but death to their outdoor plants. The answer I give them usually brings incredulous laughter, not aimed at myself but at their ignorance.
Fall is the best time to prepare your garden for winter. Mulch is a terrific water and garden saver. It prevents evaporation by shielding the sun from the soil and reduces water run-off during rain or watering. It will also cut down on the time you spend watering. Most importantly, mulch will improve sandy and clay soils by adding organic matter and encouraging earthworms.
You would need:

MULCH – there are different types of mulch materials that you can use to cover your garden. Many of these can be purchased in bags and some of them can even be obtained for free.

Some types to choose from:

  1. Wood Chips and Bark – these are the most common because they are durable and smells great if you are using pine, cedar or cypress woods.
  2. Black Plastic – black plastic is very effective in preventing weed growth. But because it holds water in the soil, it is not recommended for poorly drained areas. It does a good job of warming soil up in the spring. If you don’t like how it looks, you can cover the black plastic with a layer of bark.
  3. Compost and Manure – this is one of the best materials you can use as mulch. It is also be use for soil improvement as well. They decay quickly and are full of nutrients.
  4. Grass and Leaves – dry them first or mix with coarse materials like twigs to prevent them from forming a waterproof layer when they are tightly packed together.
  5. Other Organic Materials – compost or shredded leaves are excellent types of mulch that you can use. They add nutrients to the soil as they break down and it is readily available.
  6. Cardboard – these are also readily available from your neighborhood supermarket, grocery stores, and appliance centers. Along with shredded mulch, they will do the tilling for you.

There are also other types like straw, pine needles, rock, bag mulches, and landscape fabrics.

Applying Mulch:

  1. Make sure not to apply mulch directly in contact with your plants.
  2. Clear any weeds and water your plants first before applying mulch
  3. Spread the mulch evenly until the mulch is about 2-4 inches of depth.
  4. You may need to apply additional mulch depending on the mulching material that you use.

Calculating the amount of mulch needed:

Calculate the surface area and the desired depth of coverage. There are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard. A cubic yard will cover a 324-square-foot area with an inch of mulch.
Figure out the square footage of your bed, by multiplying the width and the length for square or rectangular shaped beds.
The square footage of a circular bed is the distance from the middle of the circle to the outside, multiplied by itself and then multiplied by 3.14 (which is pi).

Multiply your square footage by the depth desired (in inches) and divide by 324 square feet. This will tell you how many cubic yards you will need.


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