Mulching perennials helps to retain moisture and reduce weeding.
Posted on: November 25, 02
Many kinds of mulching materials are now available to gardeners. This varies by region, since often mulches are a byproduct of some other industry, such as bark or cocoa bean hulls.
Some of the most common types are shredded hardwood and softwood bark, pine needles, nut hulls, ground corncobs and cocoa bean hulls. Many municipalities now shred garden waste and make this available free for the taking. All of these products are good for mulching around perennials. Gardeners usually considering both the price and aesthetic appearance in selecting the best mulch for their needs.
A depth of two to three inches is sufficient around perennials. To help calculate your mulch requirements, first measure the square footage of your beds. One cubic yard of mulch will cover between 200 and 300 square feet of perennial bed at the suggested depth of two to three inches. Bagged mulch usually states the number of cubic feet contained in the bag. There are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard. As an example:
The garden measures 25 feet by 8 feet, for a total of 200 square feet.
One cubic yard (27 cubic feet) will cover 200 square feet of bed to a depth of 2 inches.
The bagged mulch chosen contains 2.5 cubic feet per bag. 27 divided by 2.5 = 10.8 bags of mulch, which we can round up to 11.
Applying mulch around perennials is somewhat time consuming, since it must be done carefully, using a bucket or shovel. Unlike shrubs and trees, perennials are easily smothered by mulch, so extra care must be taken to not dump the mulch directly on top of the plant crowns. Ideally, the mulch should taper down to ground level beside each plant, leaving a sort of saucer of unmulched ground directly around the stems. This will help to keep excess moisture away from the crown, which could lead to various rots and fungal diseases.
A simple way to mulch newly planted gardens is to place upside-down pots carefully over each plant. Lay the mulch with a bucket, then remove the pots and you are basically done.
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