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How to Cover Mulch

How to Cover Mulch

If you’re wondering how to cover mulch, you’re not alone. While most gardeners cover their mulch with a layer of dirt, there are other methods. Some people use compostable materials, like Peanut hulls or Cottonseed. Others use bark nuggets, which are small pieces of bark that can easily be buried in the soil. Regardless of which method you choose, there are a few things to consider.

How to Cover Mulch

 

 

 

Compostable mulch

Compost is a great way to improve the condition of your soil and retain moisture during the spring and summer months. It turns the soil into a sponge by increasing the amount of organic matter. It can also be beneficial in reducing or eliminating tillage, which will support soil aggregation and allow for more water retention.

However, biodegradation rates vary significantly depending on the environmental conditions. Factors that affect the rate of biodegradation include temperature, humidity, and the microbial activity in the soil. Biodegradable mulch is not a guaranteed solution, so it is advisable to use it with care.

Cottonseed

Using cottonseed hulls as mulch is an environmentally-friendly way to add nutrients to your garden. You can spread cottonseed hulls about an inch thick over your vegetable beds. To get the best results, you should let the hulls dry in the sun. Afterward, you can cover them with mulch, and you can also apply cottonseed hull meal, which is a great organic fertilizer.

Cottonseed meal contains a high protein content, which helps slow down the decomposition process. The nutrients in cottonseed meal are not available to plants immediately; they must be broken down by soil microbes, which can take weeks to months. The slow decomposition also helps keep your soil aerated. Adding cottonseed meal to your garden soil also improves the tilth of your soil.

Peanut hulls

When you cover peanut hulls with mulch, they act like a soil conditioner, protecting plant roots from harsh elements and keeping the soil moist. The shells are similar to wood chips, so they take a while to decompose. But they’re also poor sources of fertilizer because they contain bacteria, fungi and white mold, which can cause problems for plants and lawns. A Texas A&M University extension horticulturist, B. Dean McGraw, warns that peanut hull mulch is not recommended for plants in warm climates because it can harbor parasitic worms.

Although peanut shells do not decompose quickly, they can help your garden by composting. Most composting materials break down to form compost within six months, but woody materials take longer. The time needed depends on the size of the particles, moisture, and temperature. The minimum time is 180-300 days.

Bark nuggets

When you are considering mulching, there are a number of options to choose from. The best mulch for your specific needs depends on your desired look and aesthetics. Mulches that contain organic matter are generally better for front entrances and focal points. Mulches made from natural materials are usually more durable and last longer than shredded materials. They also help to conserve water.

Pine bark mulch comes in several varieties, including finely shredded, double-processed, and in large chunks called “pine nuggets.” Pine bark is ideal for covering your garden because it decomposes slowly but adds valuable organic matter to your soil. Plus, pine bark has a low alkaline pH, which helps protect plants from extreme weather conditions.

Landscape fabric

Covering mulch with landscape fabric can increase the curb appeal of your yard. Moreover, it can prevent weeds from growing underneath the mulch. However, you should know that landscape fabric has its own drawbacks. This is because it can hinder the process of decaying mulch. Because mulch is usually made of wood byproducts, this material will decay in the presence of moisture. This process will release nutrients into the soil and feed beneficial microorganisms. These microorganisms are necessary for a healthy garden.

Before installing landscape fabric, you should make sure that the area where you plan to place it has a good soil composition. Then, lay out the fabric parallel to the long dimension of the area. When you lay out the fabric, make sure that there is a 2-inch overhang along each side. Once the landscape fabric is properly positioned, you can cut it to fit the area. Make sure to cut it two inches larger than the surrounding soil.

Tarp

A tarp is a good way to protect mulch in a garden or other outdoor area from the elements. Often, a tarp can also serve as a roof over a pile of mulch. It’s important to choose a tarp that has built-in UV protection. If you don’t, your mulch will decompose after a few years in the ground and will require you to redo the landscaping process. Alternatively, you can place a rock landscape ring around your plants that is free of plastic. This ring should be about the same size as the root ball of the plant at maturity.

When storing mulch, it is important to avoid storing it in low-air areas, such as a garage or basement. In these areas, wood chips will ferment and produce high-pH acids that can be harmful to plants. Also, you’ll want to store mulch in an area that will keep it out of direct sunlight. Once covered, you’ll need to open the tarp for air flow to prevent the material from becoming too hot.