a mulch in a garden

How To Mulch Your Garden Properly to Encourage the Most Plant Growth

Mulching is an excellent part of your gardening process that provides plants with the tool that retains moisture and encourages your plants to grow. So, how to mulch your garden properly to encourage the most plant growth?

It also works in suppressing weeds, which is a good thing! Spreading mulch also happens to be one of the most fun parts of your gardening experience.

So, how do you mulch your garden in such a way that has the most significant effect?

Apply mulch during the fall season for the most significant effect. Typically, a good beginner’s mulch is wood mulch, as it erodes quickly and will be mostly gone by the following season.

Ensure the mulch is about three inches deep to spread an even coating.

In the rest of this article, we will delve into the detailed process of spreading mulch. We will also help you on picking the right mulch for your garden.

How To Select the Right Mulch for Your Garden

When selecting mulch, be aware that they come in two broad categories:

Organic mulch includes (you guessed it) organic materials. These include shredded bark, grass clippings, wood chips, and compost. Organic mulches are best for improving the soil’s health, making them great for extensive root systems in trees and shrubs.  

Inorganic mulches are on the “weird side” of things. These include natural materials like black plastic, rubber mulch, and landscape fabrics.

Inorganic mulches do not improve the soil but can be incredibly helpful in providing a low-effort solution for your plants. For example, black plastic is known to reduce soil temperature, encouraging plant growth. 

Organic mulches offer a better overall solution because they are the only ones to enrich the soil among types of mulch.

Inorganic mulches are more convenient and can achieve outstanding results. But pick the organic options to get started. 

A Step-By-Step Process to Spreading Your Mulch

To spread your mulch, follow this process:

  1. Have the right tools
  2. Calculate the amount of mulch you need
  3. Spread the mulch around three inches of thickness

Step One: Have the Right Tools

garden tools

Your first step is to make sure you have the right tools for the job. You won’t get far without them. 

Below are some standard tools you use and how they are incorporated;

  • Shovel: You use a shovel to relocate and spread mulch throughout a garden. If you are looking to purchase one, check out the Ashman Round Shovel.
  • Gardening gloves: Selecting the right pair of gloves is critical to be comfortable. If you seek some study gardening gloves, check out our list of the best gardening gloves for brambles.
  • Wheelbarrows: Wheelbarrows are best to provide you with a basin to mix your mulch. We’ve also reviewed some great wheelbarrows previously. If you have a small garden space, you can choose a bucket instead. 
  • Landscaping rake: A landscaping rake allows you to relocate your mulch until it levels out quickly. Check out the Groundskeeper II if you are looking for a good rake

Step Two: Calculate the Amount of Mulch you Need

an organic mulch

To calculate the amount of mulch you need, you have a couple of options:

  • Search for an online calculator.
  • Search for a product that claims to cover a certain amount of square footage.
  • Do a mulch calculation yourself.

Many companies try to make it as easy as possible, so they do the calculations for you. For example, USA Pine Straw offers a box that covers up to 300 sq ft

Home Depot also offers an online calculator to try and simplify the process. This calculator allows you to measure what you need by cubic feet. You can also measure your garden bed with any standard measuring tape. 

To determine the cubic feet yourself, all you have to do is take length x width x height. The same logic applies if you measure in cubic inches as well.

Once you have this number, it allows you to buy based on the amount of square footage a product should cover. There is no one-size-fits-all rule for determining how many pounds translates to cubic feet.

Roughly, we can say that a . Given that one quart is approximately two pounds, we can say that a 40-lb sack of mulch is around 20 cu ft. This calculation accounts for the standard three inches of mulch gardeners recommend. 

Step Three: Spread the Mulch Around Three Inches of Thickness

a wheel barrow with gaeden mulch and a shovel in the garden

The last two tips for spreading any form of mulch are keeping it at about a three-inch-thick pile.

You can vary this slightly (between two and four), but having too much mulch results in oversaturation while having too little results in undernourished plants. 

This situation applies when you use a mulch of the organic variety. If you apply inorganic mulch  (black plastic or landscaping fabrics), you need one layer. The thickness ensures that the plant roots can benefit as the nutrients sink into the ground. 

Do not pack the mulch into dense piles, as your plants still need to breathe.

Final Thoughts

When wondering how to mulch a garden properly, it’s all about simple math. Three inches of mulch spread loosely along the ground. This situation applies regardless of what kind of vegetable gardens you have, whether you use weed seeds or plant flowers.

Mulch can look great in flower beds.

To prevent weed growth and encourage the best possible situation during your growing season, make sure you follow this process closely. If you need some ways to contain that mulch, consider our article on installing steel garden edging.

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