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To Mulch or Not to Mulch in Utah

Posted on Nov 13th 2023


To Mulch or Not to Mulch in Utah

As summer ends, we look forward to the joys of fall. Sweater weather returns, and the leaves are changing. But as a gardener, you know it's not quite time to sit back and relax. Many plants and flowers need to be planted in the fall to grow next spring — and you may be asking yourself, do I need to mulch my garden?

Mulching services in Utah play a crucial role in preparing your garden for the upcoming seasons. Mulch can help you control weeds and add nutrients to your soil. Different types of mulch may benefit various kinds of plants. Depending on your plants, you may mulch in the fall or wait to mulch in the spring. Here's a brief look at the benefits of mulch and different types.

Top Three Advantages of Mulching:

Protect Plants from Severe Weather

You shouldn't mulch heavily for new growth in the fall, as it can contribute to plant rot and inhibit growth. However, utilizing mulch after the first deep freeze to prepare conditions for harsher winter weather will help keep the roots of your existing plants healthy and happy. Mulch helps control soil temperature and will help protect your soil and prevent erosion.

Water Conservation

Whether you live in an area that receives immense rainfall or have a great irrigation system that keeps your plants hydrated, mulch helps plants get the right amount of water.

A Hot Shot Sprinkler Repair & Landscape professional adding mulch to a garden - contact us today to discuss mulching services in Utah!

Mulch can prevent water from pooling on top of surfaces and increase water movement into the soil. This limits water loss and waste, saving you money, especially if you are paying for irrigation. Mulch can also prevent soil from splashing onto leaves and plants from wind or rain, avoiding the transfer of bacteria and fungi that can infect trees or bushes or cause leaf rot.

Add Nutrients to Your Soil Naturally

Breaking down organic matter like leaves, pine needles, grass clippings, manure, and compost can add nutrients to your soil, creating an excellent new bed to plant crops in spring.

Mulch can also discourage weed growth in your gardens without spraying heavy chemicals or weed killers. This creates a better environment for humans and animals, keeping the edible crops you plant tasting great and safe for consumption.

Cardboard mulch is an especially great choice in the fall to prepare new beds. Flatten old boxes and form a layer over your garden bed. Wetting the cardboard will aid in breaking it down to suppress weeds while allowing your soil to soak up sun and nutrients. In spring, your garden area will be ready to welcome new plants!

Two Things to Consider

The “Look” You Want

While some mulch is strictly an addition to your soil, wood chips and rock mulch are two types that will change the look of your landscape.

A garden mulch provided by mulching services in Utah from Hot Shot Sprinkler Repair & Landscape.

Rock mulch lacks most of the benefits of traditional organic mulch. Stones don't add nutrients to your soil, and they retain heat. They're also more expensive and can be dangerous if consumed by animals.

In some cases, wood chips are a better option. As organic material, they'll help your soil thrive while giving your yard depth and variety visually. However, you'll need to add a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to balance the nitrogen wood mulch absorbs from the soil. Also, wood can attract certain types of insects. While these insects aren't harmful to your garden, you'll want to keep wood mulch a safe distance from your home to keep any bugs from migrating indoors.

The Environment

Some popular mulches have particular environmental concerns you should be aware of before introducing them to your home ecosystem.

Cocoa bean hulls are an organic mulch and give many of the nutrients and weed-fighting benefits you want for your garden. However, this mulch is toxic to dogs and can cause illness and even death in severe cases. If you choose to use this mulch, it's best to ensure that your dog and others in the surrounding area cannot access your garden to ingest it accidentally.

Rubber, plastic, and dyed mulch chips break down under the sun, adding harsh chemicals to the environment. If used for gardening, especially for crops you intend to eat, those chemicals will make an unhealthy addition to your soil. They also aren't safe for birds, squirrels, or other wild animals to ingest. Stick with safer plastic or fabric sheets that work under the soil or organic mulches to keep plants, animals, and yourself safe and healthy.

Free Organic Mulch

One of the most significant advantages of mulching in the fall is the easy access to free materials such as fallen leaves or grass.

Leaves typically need a few months to fully break down into leaf mold, making autumn an excellent time to apply them to new beds. Send them through a lawnmower first to assist in the breakdown process. When spring comes around, and you're ready to plant, your soil should have the necessary nutrients to support your crops.

Grass clippings are a great organic option if you haven't treated your lawn with chemicals or pesticides. Take a day or two to dry the clippings, then sprinkle them on your garden. You can decrease waste and save money at the same time!

Mulching When It Works For You

Ultimately, mulching is a personal choice. It can help your garden thrive but isn't a requirement. However, if you want to address an irrigation, climate, or soil concern, utilizing the correct type of mulch at the right time can help your garden and plants throughout the seasons. Consider seeking professional mulching services in Utah from Hot Shot Sprinkler Repair & Landscape to ensure that your mulching needs are met efficiently and effectively.