You have spent hours creating a beautiful yard. You have cleared the area where you envision blooming flowers, lush green shrubs, and perhaps even your grandmothers’ forget-me-nots. You painstakingly chose the appropriate locations for each of your new additions, place them with care, and begin the perfect regimen of fertilizer, water, and sunshine.
And then, the weeds begin.
These garden bullies seek to overtake your garden and sap nutrients from your beloved plantlife. As prolific pests, they have found those sun-drenched spots, and you know that simply pulling them out will begin a new, almost daily routine. However, utilizing weed-killing spray may have harsh repercussions for the rest of your plants.
What is the solution?
How can you naturally and effectively keep the weeds at bay?
Bark mulch is your answer for weed suppression.
Two Reasons Why You Should Use Bark Mulch as Weed Suppression Tool
Bark mulch is the best choice for use as a weed suppressant as it inhibits weeds in two critical ways. First, by applying a thick layer covering the soil, bark mulch deprives the weed seeds in the soil, and their resulting seedlings, of the sunlight desperately needed to germinate and thrive. This prevents current weed seeds from growing.
Second, in applying a thick layer covering the soil, bark mulch inhibits weed growth in another way. Bare soil, especially nutrient-rich topsoils, offer a sort of haven for weed seeds to land and settle in. Bark mulch acts as an inhospitable barrier, stopping weed seeds in their tracks and preventing them from coming into contact with the nutrient-rich soil in the first place.
In these two ways, bark mulch can stop any potential growth of weeds; in fact, the use of bark mulch can reduce weed growth by as much as 90 percent. The plants surrounded by bark mulch are then free to thrive without the needless competition for soil nutrients.
The Other Benefits of Using Mulch
While using bark mulch for weed suppression could be reason enough, there are plenty of other great benefits to be had when you apply mulch in your landscapes:
- Helps retain soil moisture. Maintaining a consistent amount of moisture in the soil around your plants is a key factor in keeping them healthy and thriving. Mulch helps prevent moisture from evaporating too quickly, thus allowing plants to be healthy for longer, especially in the heat of summer.
- Feeds the soil. Organic mulches, such as bark mulches, break down gradually over time to add extra nutrients and organic matter to your soil. These types of organic matter are further broken down by worms and other microbes to enrich the soil and promote the healthier growth of your plant life.
- Prevents heaving. In the autumn and winter months, bark mulch can also be helpful in preventing a phenomenon referred to as “heaving”. When the water in the soil freezes at night and then thaws during the day, this cycle can actually cause plants to pop out of the soil (known as “heaving”), which can, of course, be the end of your plant’s life.
With all these amazing benefits, bark mulch is your ultimate option for weed suppression. Help your plants grow without competition, in rich and moist soil year-round with one of our premium mulch options.
“I am not trying to be a bad waterer, I just don’t think I fully get how to be a good waterer.”
If you identify with that statement, this article may be for you.
The single most important resource in landscape care is water. In varying degree all plants need water to survive and thrive. So much time, money, and frustration can be saved with just a little attention toward proper watering practices. The excuses for not watering are as numerous as the day is long and we’ve heard them all.
Though strategic placement of landscape mulch in garden areas and around trees, shrubs and flower beds will prolong moisture retention of the soil, a consistent watering regime is still needed. The basic fact is that without water – or with too much – all life fails. It’s a simple biological fact.
You can be sure that if you practice the following seven habits religiously, you’ll see a definite improvement in the health and vigor of your plants. These habits will enable you to:
- use less water
- keeps you in touch with your plants
- turn watering into a calming activity rather than a stressful task
Read on for the full article:
7 Habits of Successful Waterers
The single most important resource in landscape care is water. In varying degree all plants need water to survive and thrive. So it stands to reason that my single biggest frustration as a landscape professional is convincing landscape owners to pay attention to watering. So much time, money, and frustration can be saved with just a little attention toward proper watering practices.
The excuses for not watering are as numerous as the day is long and I’ve heard them all. I can tell you from experience that none of them is valid, especially if you’re a shrub, tree, or other plant struggling to get a drink of water to survive. While all this may sound a little harsh, the basic fact is that without water – or with too much – all life fails. It’s a simple biological fact.
Just recently I was discussing watering with a long-time client whom I’m after every year to water more. I finally said, “You know I love you, but you are a terrible waterer.” Her response was priceless. She paused, gave me a long, low “hmmmm” and said, “Yes, I know, but maybe that is something you can help me with. I mean, I am not trying to be a bad waterer, I just don’t think I fully get how to be a good waterer.”
John Lysak dutifully watering new annuals planted for a splash of summer color.
That made me think, “she certainly isn’t the only bad waterer; how can I help people wrestling with how much – or how little – to water?” So, at my client’s urging, I came up with these “Seven Habits for Successful Watering.” I promise you that if you practice these seven habits religiously, you’ll see a definite improvement in the health and vigor of your plants:
- Visit your plants regularly
Seriously, get to know your plants and your landscape intimately. Some areas are high and hot, other low and wet, still others feature trees and shade, while some might be wide open and exposed to the drying sun. All have different watering needs. You can’t truly know this if you don’t visit them. I take a walk every day after work as a way to decompress from the day, check in to see what is in bloom, and tend to the occasional weed patch. Yes, I am a professional…and I still find weeds in my garden!!
- Touch the soil often
Nothing provides accurate information like engaging your senses. All soils are different – do you know what types of soil you have? Is it sandy and dry? Soft and moist? Do you know if it holds water well or does it just run right through? These things matter. Get your hands in the soil and know for sure. Something as simple as seeing some wilt and then scratching at the soil at the base of the plant may tell you if that wilt is from being over dry or over wet.
- Watch the water
You can water all day long, but that’s never a good idea – it’s wasteful and counter-productive. In fact, the single biggest waste of water and cause of pollution is run-off from unmonitored watering.
If you watch water carefully, you’ll notice that at first it runs off dry soil until you achieve some saturation. Then, once fully saturated, water simply runs right through. What’s the lesson here? More is not better. You want to water just enough to enable it to soak in, and sometimes that requires a little help.
Try watering very lightly for a longer period of time. Or perhaps create a little well to hold the water and encourage it to sink in rather than run off. Try wetting the top soil, then brush it away with your hands to see how far it sunk in. Just imagine that old dry sponge at the kitchen sink – it takes a moment for the water to break that dry seal before the sponge will accept the water – same with over dry soils.
- Watch the weather
This may come as a surprise, but plants sweat just like people. Well, not exactly the same. While people have sweat glands, plants have stomata – tiny pores that dot the plant’s surfaces. Stomata enable the plant to rid itself of excess water through transpiration – a process that removes through evaporation as much as 97-99 percent of the water taken up by its roots.
Weather, then, affects transpiration just like sweating. The hotter the nights, the more plants transpire. Heat and humidity make plants “sweat” through their leaves, drying them out and putting them at risk if water isn’t replaced in a timely and efficient manner. For example, some plants love misting while others hate it.
Knowing your plants and what they like is important, just like understanding the local weather and environmental conditions. Generally speaking, we don’t need to do much watering in New England in April or May, but by the time we hit June, soils are drying up, the rains are slowing down, and plants could likely use a good drink.
- Frequency and duration
Not all plants need the same duration or frequency of watering. If you practice habits 1-4, you’ll be able to accurately gauge how much water your plants will need to stay happy and healthy. Almost all plant resource books and websites that give you plant data will suggest what a plant likes – moist soil, dry soil, loamy soil, sandy soil – these “likes” correlate with water needs. Moist and loamy soils will indicate an affinity for regular “dampness” in the soil. Dry and sandy soil lovers will be okay with periods of dry out.
- Adjust your irrigation system
Many landscapes benefit from irrigation systems, but it’s important to test and adjust them. One of the biggest issues with irrigation systems is the “set it and forget it” mindset. Many landscape owners simply set the automatic watering timer and then assume that will take care of things. But no single setting will deliver the proper amount of water throughout the three distinctly different New England growing seasons. Without making seasonal adjustments, you’re guaranteed of over-and under-watering throughout the year.
Here is something to keep in mind; in the springtime, the plant “juices” are flowing upwards from the soil to the tip tops of the trees. The plants are pulling energy, liquids, and nourishment up from their roots and pushing out new spring growth. If you envision having a cool glass of water and using a straw to pull up a refreshing drink…that is not much different than what the plants are doing. So all the trees (effectively the biggest straws) are pulling water out of the soil with great force. Rain replenishes some, but as you all know, one 80-degree day and you can feel super parched, super fast. Same goes for plants and the big ones can take up the resource faster than the little ones.
- Make watering easy
Nobody likes doing things that are difficult or frustrating. Consider turning what could be a chore into a relaxing and enjoyable experience by making the task easy!
I am a firm believer in point-of-contact watering. That’s the fancy term for using a hose or a watering can to water the ONE plant that needs it. If you have one operational spigot in your landscape you can be sure that watering won’t happen. The WORST two tasks of gardening in my opinion are dragging and coiling heavy, dirty hoses. I confess I have watched a plant suffer and die before I got around to dragging a hose out to rescue it.
Now I have a “free-line” on my irrigation system and spigots that are placed roughly every 75 to 80 feet throughout my 2.5-acre landscape. I keep a 100-foot hose coiled in several of the location and I can easily access water whenever and wherever I want.
My approach is to run the irrigation system to provide a steady moisture level — not overwatering or creating run-off. I walk my landscape every day and when a plant needs water, I grab the hose or fill a watering can and spot-water right where it’s needed. This uses less water and keeps me in touch with my plants. And, as hokey as this may sound, it provides a wonderful way to meditate and unwind from my day. Watering has turned into a calming activity rather than a stressful task.
Now don’t you feel like getting out there and watering?
The original article was posted on theGardenContinuum.com – 7 Habits of Successful Waterers.
Is Coloured Mulch Safe for Your Garden?
The use of coloured mulch has increased over the last number of years, as the bold and rich colour offers an attractive look for landscaping while continuing to offer the benefits of mulching. Unlike natural, non-dyed mulch, which tends to fade to gray, coloured mulch can hold its colour for a year or longer.
However, with these benefits, public concern has also been raised regarding the use of coloured mulch. The primary question is: Is Coloured Mulch Safe for Your Garden?
What about the dye?
The typical dyes used for colouring mulch are iron oxide-based and carbon-based. Iron oxide, used to produce red mulch, is commonly known as rust, and is used extensively in paints, cosmetics, and even used to dye flowers. Carbon, used to produce black mulch, is an element often used for ink or paint. Both bases for these dyes are considered natural, non-toxic and safe for handling. Most other colours are made with vegetable-based colourants, also from naturally occurring elements.
A study (“Are Mulch Colorants Safe”) conducted by the Mulch and Soil Council, determined that colourants typically used for coloured mulch are deemed non-toxic and when used properly, would not have any negative effects on the environment.
Of course, a savvy customer should ask about the product they are purchasing, and the company should know about their product. For example, at Denbow, we know that our mulch is coloured with non-hazardous, safe for the environment, ingredients.
What is in the wood?
As the colourant used in coloured mulch has been generally deemed safe for use, eyes have turned to the content of the wood. The use of recycled wood is a beneficial practice for the environment, yet depending on the content of the wood, harmful toxins (such as lead) could be lingering from past uses.
When purchasing coloured mulch, then, it is important to consider the wood content. In an effort to improve the quality of our products, Denbow produces a number of our own materials, including processing our own mulches. We work with select sources of material to minimize foreign material in our finished products. Our red and black coloured mulches are made of locally recycled wood, free from these contaminants.
Will it affect the soil?
There is a concern that when using wood mulch, the carbon of the wood will interact with the nitrogen in the soil, using the nitrogen to help the decomposition process, but in turn, pulling the nutrients from the soil. Coloured mulch actually decomposes at a slower rate than regular wood mulch, which means the nitrogen is removed from the soil at a slower rate.
Use of a nitrogen-rich fertilizer is encouraged, as for whether or not mulch is used, the soil can benefit from the implementation of a regular fertilization program. It is recommended when adding new mulch, to take the time to remove old mulch or be sure to cultivate your existing mulch on a monthly basis in order to help healthy decomposition.
At the end of the day, if you are looking for a pop of colour to refresh a garden bed, or seeking to landscape a new area and considering an alternative to the natural mulch, coloured mulch is a safe and beautiful option. Is coloured mulch safe for your garden? Yes, Denbow’s coloured mulch definitely is.
THE BENEFITS OF USING MULCH IN YOUR GARDEN
Those of us with a green thumb have two challenges when it comes to gardening: maintaining a healthy and moist garden bed and keeping the weeds from invading. Daily watering is not always possible for a variety of reasons, including conservation of water and summer watering restrictions. Regular weeding, especially with a large garden plot, requires not only a good amount of time but also puts a repetitive strain on knees and back which can hinder a gardener’s ability to keep up with the job. Reducing the amount of energy and water required to maintain a garden can be found in utilizing more sustainable gardening practices. One excellent option is to introduce mulch to your garden.
THE KEY BENEFITS OF USING MULCH IN YOUR GARDEN
There are a number of benefits of using mulch in your garden; here are a few that may encourage you to get started.
- Keeps the weeds away. A layer of mulch on top of the garden soil may be the best solution to creating a weed-free bed. A good coating of mulch will inhibit the germination and growth of weeds in your soil.
- Holds in moisture and nutrients. Not only are weeds an embarrassing sight for sore eyes, they can steal both nutrients and water from the plants in your garden. Laying mulch will help the soil hold in its moisture and nutrients so the plants can absorb what they need, and organic mulch will also release additional nutrients into the soil. Laying mulch will also help ensure your soil will not dry out too quickly, especially while at work during a hot summer day, or on vacation and asking your neighbour to water for you.
- Regulates soil temperature. Mulch also helps regulate the temperature of the soil so plants or trees don’t get stressed from high to low fluctuations. This means that adding mulch to your garden can actually be beneficial not only in spring and summer but also act as a protectant for your soil and year-round plants in the cold and wet weather of winter months.
- Makes a home for the bugs you want, and repels the ones you don’t. Mulch can increase biodiversity in your yard by giving a variety of insects and other tiny creatures homes and shelter, such as earthworms who continue the process of improving soil structure. Certain types of mulch can also help repel ticks, gnats and fleas.
- Protects the soil from both nature and people. Mulch breaks down very slowly, protecting from the elements such as the drying heat of the sun, but also from heavy rainfall, preventing it from becoming too compact, or even eroding. A stray weed whacker or lawn mower that comes too close to your garden can also do damage, but mulch can protect your plants by providing a buffer.
To receive the best benefits from using mulch in your garden, add a layer of at least 5 – 7.5 cm (2 – 3 inches) and maintain it as long as you have plants in your garden. A vegetable garden will appreciate the added support for its season, while trees and shrubs in your yard can benefit all year round.
WHAT TYPES OF MULCH ARE THERE?
There are many types of mulch to choose from, but most of them can fall into one of two groups.
ORGANIC: This includes wood chips, leaves, compost, peat moss, grass, pine-needles and straw. This may be the superior of the two because as the organic mulch decomposes, it will add beneficial organic nutrients to your plants. Be careful to ensure the grass clippings or leaves used do not contain pesticides or fertilizers, as these can contaminate the natural processes of decomposing.
INORGANIC: This includes stones or rubber chips or any similar material. These mulches will still inhibit weeds and moisture loss, but will not improve your soil condition or add any nutrients.
Mid-spring is the best time to lay down mulch, in order to keep plants at their healthiest from the start. If this is your first time adding mulch, remember to weed your bed thoroughly before you begin. If you already have a layer of mulch from the previous season, be sure to break it up, or remove some of it, before adding a new layer. If the layer gets too thick when adding to existing mulch, your mulch might not decompose and will hinder the possible root growth. Be sure to stay within the 5 – 7.5 cm range at all times.
While mulch can benefit your trees, be sure not to pile it up around the trunks of trees. Excessive mulch can rot the tree’s trunk and will create a haven for insects that will damage the tree. It also encourages the tree to grow a secondary root system away from the rot. When this happens, the original, deep roots can start to wither and make your tree vulnerable in dry spells. Be sure to keep mulch 6 – 12 inches away from the base of your trees or shrubs The same holds true with your plants: be sure to give your plants some breathing room by keeping mulch about 2.5 – 5 cm away from the plant crown.
You have prepared your garden, planted, and added the necessary layer of mulch: the hard work is done! Watering should now be very easy. At the beginning of the season, and for the first 3 – 4 weeks after planting, a deep watering that thoroughly soaks the garden will be needed at least once a week. If you have great soil, a nice layer of mulch and water efficient plants, your garden should thrive off natural rainfalls only (depending on the season). If you add plants later or experience any times of drought, more water will be necessary. If you are growing crops to eat, once food begins to grow, you may need to water more often as your crops will need the excess water to create lush and nutritious food.
Interested in experiencing the benefits of using mulch in your garden? Let us know!
20 Reasons Why You Should Use Mulch In Your Garden
Are you interested in saving time and money while giving your garden the best chance to succeed? Are you losing too many plants in the heat of summer or the frost of fall? Here’s our “simple” solution that should help you out. Use Mulch!! It’s nature’s best way to protect plants, add nutrients and save on water.
1. Adds organic matter to your soil, which helps make your garden healthier and more resistant to pest and plant disease.
3. Helps retain moisture in the soil. Mulch acts as a natural roof and insulation layer to protect the soil from the sun. This helps prevent excessive evaporation of water and helps regulate the soils temperature. This helps utilize the minimal amount of rain water we get in the summer and helps save with the amount of water we use.
4. Shades delicate seedlings from too much sun since it acts a natural roof and shade.
5. Reduces time spent watering. More time to tend to other tasks and (this is getting redunant) helps save water!
“Mulch can retain up to 70% more water in the soil than unmulched soil.”
6. Is a great insulator by regulating soil temperature – keeps roots consistently cool in summer and warm in winter which reduces the amount of plant stress and typically provides for a richer, stronger plant.
7. Provides a natural barrier to help prevent weeds. The interlocking layer of mulch prevents the air born weeds from getting rooted in your gardens soil. If weeds do get a start, mulch makes pulling weeds easy.
8. Increases biological activity in your soil by providing beneficial micro-organisms and earthworms with food. Both of which are great for your plants!
9. Improves soil conditions – helps to bind sandy soils and open up clay soils.
10. Saves you time and energy in prepping and cultivating your soil.
11. Stops nutrients from leaching out of the soil.
12. Protects plants from frost damage by acting as a protective covering. We’ve mentioned this before but we felt the insulating factor of mulch is too important to not mention again.
13. Provides a clean surface for produce like fruit and nuts to fall, ready for harvesting.
14. Improves soil drainage and structure as it decomposes.
15. Provides support around plants especially young seedlings. You can “pile up” a little mulch around weaker steams giving the young plant the extra help it needs to thrive.
16. Recycles waste materials. This is one of the main principles that we operate from. We LOVE to recycle forest residuals into useful products.
17. Protects plants from heavy rain. The protective interlocking nature of mulch protects and helps bind together the plant structure.
18. Prevents erosion and soil compaction particularly from foot traffic on pathways and play areas.
19. Improves the visual appearance of your garden. Especially if you use a beautiful coloured mulch.
20. Can provide a home for plant-friendly insects.
We love to hear from you so please either share this with your friends or you can email us any questions you might have. We hope you enjoyed our 20 Reasons for Mulch.
Earlier this week we posted an article covering frequently asked questions about mulch. If you found it helpful, we’d like to share with you another article that also provides some great information, tips and answers for problem scenarios.
Mulch reduces the amount of water lost through evaporation by shielding the soil from the sun’s drying rays. It keeps the soil cooler during the summer and acts as an insulator through the cold winter months lessening the effects of fluctuating temperatures on plant roots which in turn decreases their susceptibility to frost heaving.
Did you know that mulch applied too thickly can cause problems? Water may be unable to penetrate the mulch and reach the soil and plants fail to receive adequate moisture. It can also lead to root and stem rot problems in plants. It’s best to place mulch 2-3″ deep and replace it more frequently than placing it too deep.
For more valuable tips, types and problems read the full mulch article here.
“Happy Earth Day Everyone. Use compost and save the earth!”