Next time you walk or drive by a beautifully manicured garden, stop and take a look at the soil. Can you see it? Probably not. That’s because people who care about gardening understand the immense value of mulch. Mulch not only makes you garden look great, it helps keep your plants healthy too.

Weeds are a gardener’s worst enemy. They’re not only unsightly; they also compete with your plants for water and vital nutrients. We all know what a pain it is to pull them, but most people feel uncomfortable using chemicals to get rid of them. Mulching can stop weeds before they even start growing. Using mulch covers up the areas around your plant so they don’t get as much sunlight. Lack of sunlight means weed seed can’t germinate and grow.

Mulching also reduces the amount of watering you have to do. Most of us have seen bare spots on someone’s lawn. They generally look caked and dry. When it rains, water just rolls off of them instead of soaking in. Putting mulch on top keeps the water from evaporating out of the soil. This means your plants not only have more water, but they also have a more consistent source of water, so they get less stressed.

Another benefit of mulch is that it blocks the soil from receiving as much sunlight. This keeps the temperature from getting too high, and makes the soil temperature more consistent. This will prevent the roots of your plants from getting stressed; allowing them to grow healthy and strong.

Mulching also helps protect you plants from the soil. This may not seem like a benefit, but many plant diseases are carried in the soil. If the soil gets on the leaves, the disease can spread to your plant. This is also important if you grow certain vegetables. Mulch keeps them clean, dry, and healthy by keeping them away from dirt.

So go out and get some mulch today. You can use yard clippings, tree bark, compost, or pretty much any organic material. And since it’s organic, it helps improve the soil after it breaks down. For warm weather plants, you can also use shredded black plastic to provide better heating for the soil.

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