Mulching can be one of the most beneficial gardening practices in Texas.

Using a Garden Mulch

It conserves moisture, insulates the roots of plants from temperature extremes and helps control weeds. Garden Mulches also provide a barrier to certain soil-borne diseases that feed on plant foliage.

Using an Organic Mulch

As organic mulches decompose on the soil surface, they add valuable plant nutrients to the soil. They also protect sloping ground from erosion and prevent soil compaction from hard rains. Mulched areas require little routine maintenance and can save you time and energy in the landscape. Leaves, grass clippings, pine straw and trimmings are excellent mulches for the landscape or vegetable garden. Large leaves and twigs should be shredded before they are used as a mulching material.

Using a Wood Mulch

If using a wood mulch, I recommend using a hardwood mulch because it is heavier than pine mulch and will not float away as easy during a heavy rain. I like to follow Earth-Kind practices when using a mulch. You need to maintain at least a 3-inch layer but no more than 6 inches.

Mulching Over the Years

During the first year, on average, the bottom inch will decompose, providing valuable nutrients to the growing plants. So, after the first year you will need to add another inch layer of mulch. The second and third year, about one-quarter to one-half inch will decompose. Then you will add that amount per year to maintain the 3-inch layer. If you have newly planted ornamental trees and shrubs, you need to extend the mulched area at least 6 inches beyond the canopy (drip line). This is where the majority of the feeder roots will be. Then gradually expand the mulched area as the plant grows.

More Mulching Tips

Once the mulch is in place, pull it back away from the main trunk to avoid possible wood decay. Then moisten the surface to help settle the mulch and prevent it from blowing away. Mulch can be used on flower beds, on the surface of container plants, under berry bushes, fruit trees and in the vegetable garden to help conserve moisture. I use mulch in my garden at my house. I pull back the mulch to plant my vegetables. When they are actively growing, I put the mulch back in place around the plant. My watering has been cut in half since I have started this practice.