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Mulching Your Garden For Free

Autumn is well and truly here and the leaves are falling off the trees, so now is the time to think about mulching your garden.

Why mulch? 

Mulching your garden helps the soil to retain moisture in summer, rain to penetrate the soil in winter, prevents weeds from growing and protect the roots of plants in winter from frosts.

Have you used some form of mulch on your garden in the past?   If so, you may not know that there are many other options for organic mulching that you can explore. These days, many gardeners are discovering new sources of free mulch which is an untapped resource. These include clippings from a lawn, or woody prunings from other plants in your garden. You will be surprised by how beneficial all these things can be, and how often the opportunity arises to use them.

Many gardeners have taken to spreading out their excess grass clippings across the rest of their lawns.  You may think this will look untidy, with big piles of grass just sitting in your garden as if you were too lazy to rake them up.  However, if you spread them out enough then you won’t even be able to tell that there is an excess amount.  Leaving the extra grass on the garden acts as a sort of mulch by preventing evaporation and weed growth.  With this extra water, you won’t have to water nearly as much to keep your grass green.  When you start doing this, you will find that you are able to adjust the frequency of your sprinkler system or watering regime and you will therefore save on using water.

If your garden is in more need of mulching than your lawn, you can rake up all the grass and use it on your garden borders.  By making a small layer around the vicinity of the plants you’ll apply all the same benefits from leaving it in your lawn.  My lawn is rather green on its own, but as I have clay soil, I often have trouble with my plants staying green and healthy.  So, rather than leave the grass clipping in my compost heap, I distribute them all around my plants.  It is just a matter of choosing what your highest mulching priority is.

Sometimes, our pruning activities will lead us to have an amazing amount of branches and twigs.  If this is the case, you should consider renting a wood chipper to put all of those branches to use.  After one day of intense pruning, you would be surprised at just how many branches you end up with.  Rather than throw these away, you can turn them into a huge amount of mulch for your plants.  However, if your pruning has not left you with a large amount, you should bundle it all up and save it to add onto the next batch, or get together with a neighbour to share the cost of renting the chipper.  This is because the chipping machines can be slightly expensive to rent and you want it to be absolutely cost effective.

Over time, all organic mulches need to be replenished. This is because they will naturally decompose in the conditions of your garden.  Usually you can tell for yourself just by looking at it, but sometimes it can look perfectly allright but still have problems.  If you start to notice any poor plant growth whatsoever, you should replace your mulch.  Always keep in mind that during the process of decomposition, your mulch will use up the valuable nitrogen in the soil. Without this, the plants will be missing a key nutrient.  There are several types of fertilizers available on the market that are specifically designed to deal with this problem.

The use of mulches in the garden and on the lawn is something everyone should try. Not only can it save lots of time by reducing the amount of rubbish that you have to transport out, but it increases the healthiness and integrity of your plants by putting that so called rubbish to good use.  So if you think you would be able to save a good amount of branches and twigs for chipping, or if you think that you are ready to stop raking up all your grass clippings, then why not try recycling them and using them as mulch.