Mulch to Control Weeds and Save Water


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In this video, learn how to use mulch to kill weeds and keep plants moist.

Use Mulch to Reduce Weeds, Save Water & Feed Your Plants

Crops need three things to grow strongly: weeding, watering, and feeding. An organic mulch will help you to do all of the above, with the following advantages:

  • Reduced weeding. Mulches prevent light from reaching the soil, reducing weed growth and saving you lots of work!
  • Protected soil. Severe weather can result in compaction and erosion of bare soil.
  • Moisture retention. Mulching moist soil helps prevent evaporation and keeps soil moist for longer.
  • Improved soil. Organic mulches improve soil structure, and they contain nutrients which feed the soil as they rot down.
  • Natural pest control. Mulches provide habitat for beneficial pest predators such as ground beetles.

Mulching is a great way to use up grass clippings and shredded prunings. They can be used on the vegetable garden or around fruit trees and bushes. Shredded prunings and shredded bark also make excellent path surfaces between beds.

Straw or hay can be used to help keep fruits such strawberries, zucchinis and bush tomatoes dry and up off the ground. This protects the developing fruits from rotting.

Mulching Techniques

  • Don’t lay mulches in spring when it’s cool and damp, as this can attract slugs. Remove any perennial weeds before laying a mulch. In dry weather give the ground a really thorough watering before mulching.
  • Most mulches need to be spread a minimum of one to two inches deep. Some, like straw, can be laid much thicker than this, while grass clippings should be applied in thin layers at regular intervals to prevent them becoming smelly and slimy.
  • It’s a great idea to mulch bare soil to protect it from harsh weather and to keep weeds in check. Lay sheets of thick cardboard so that the sheets overlap by at least a foot, and weigh them down using bricks or stones. This is a good way to protect soil over winter. In fall or early winter, spread out a layer of organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve the soil before laying the cardboard on top.
  • Paper mulches suppress weeds and also help to retain moisture. Cut a cross shape in the paper, dig a hole and simply plant through the paper. Water through the slot.

For more great gardening advice and a fantastic tool to grow your own food, click here for our Almanac Garden Planner.

Reader Comments

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Video on Mulching, British guy

Loved the video!!! He didn't explain the newspaper, but, obvious, I guess.
A man told me once that newspaper then that black material like a tarp material (in various thicknesses) on top really stops the weeds! It does.
I also liked esp. the tip about the cardboard! Very useful. Thanks!

Hi Dorothy. Really delighted

Hi Dorothy. Really delighted you enjoyed the video! Hopefully some useful tips in there. I really do recommend plain cardboard as an excellent base mulch over winter. It's also great laid one or two sheets thick on paths within a vegetable garden, which are then topped up with shredded bark or similar to give an attractive finish. You can then peel back the bark and top up the cardboard every six to 12 months to keep the paths weed-free at all times.


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