Spring is the traditional season for mulching, but fall is a great time for it, too. The mulch that you spread in the spring breaks down over the course of the spring and summer. Refreshing the mulch in your garden beds will help protect them through the winter.
Mulch has several jobs. The one that most homeowners think about first is beautifying their yards. Mulch is available in many varieties.
You can select a color of mulch that complements the house and your plantings. If you had trees fall on your property during one of the recent storms, ask the tree company to leave the wood chips for you. Chips make a beautiful alternative to bagged mulch, and they leave the wood in its original habitat.
Another great attribute of mulch is weed suppression. Left unattended, weeds will begin sprouting up through spring mulch. As mulch breaks down, it creates a layer of soil that can be thick enough for the sprouting of maple seedlings. Pull these seedlings and other weeds, then add 2-4 inches of new mulch to help prevent your yard from looking unkempt as the leaves on the trees begin to change.
Mulch also retains moisture. This is most important in the hot, dry days of summer, but it relevant in the fall as well. During the fall, we tend to think less about watering plants than we do in hot weather. Autumn can still bring week-long stretches between rain storms, so adding a layer of mulch helps the ground retain the water to be soaked up by underlying root systems.
Be careful when mulching around trees. Mulch is great for reducing the area under a tree that needs to be mowed, but you do not want to pile mulch right up next to the base of the tree trunk. This can trap too much moisture and cause the tree to decay. If you think you got too close last time, scrape the mulch away from the trunk and look for white rot. Give the tree a chance to breathe, and begin the new mulch several inches farther away from the trunk.
Mulch is great for preventing erosion, insulating roots from harsh winter temperatures, and preparing the soil for a perfect growing season the following spring.