Cleaning and mulching beds is a very important part of maintaining the health of any landscape. Mulch helps plants hold moisture in the root zone, provides a cooling effect in hot weather and improves the aesthetics of any property. It's important to purchase a high quality mulch from a reputable supplier. Inferior mulch may not only carry disease and insects, but can also be poorly ground and contain undesirable materials. Black walnut mulch is always a bad idea! It contains a chemical called "juglone." Juglone is a respiration inhibitor that can cause yellowing in leaves and eventual death in many plant species. (Source: University of West Virginia). Ground hardwood mulch does not provide a food source for termites. Termites prefer solid woods like the lumber used in homes and decks. When choosing mulch for a play area always use a designated "safety" mulch. It costs about twice as much, but knowing that it is free of glass, metal and other dangerous materials makes it well worth the additional cost. Don't forget that it's best not to get mulch closer than two inches from the "weep holes" or siding on your home.The goal is to improve the home, not cause damage.
Any benefits that mulch provides can quickly be undermined if the beds aren't properly prepared before your mulch project begins. The organic debris accumulated through Fall and Winter must be removed and disposed of before mulching operations begin. Simply burying the debris provides an excellent environment for insects, fungus and plant diseases to develop and thrive. It's important to remove material from the interior structure of the plants. It can be difficult and time consuming to perform this operation when dealing with thorny plants like roses or barberry but the improved health of the plants makes it well worth the time. Please feel free to call me if you have questions and thanks again for looking at "Mike's Garden."