Fall Mulch Application: Get A Head Start On Winter

Fall is just around the corner, which means cooler weather that will be transitioning into frost within the next two months. Before the first freeze occurs, spreading a layer of mulch around your plant beds and garden will help protect your plants throughout the winter.

Giving your plants a healthy layer of mulch before winter sets in should always be a part of your fall landscaping to-do list.

Keep The Soil A Consistent Temperature

When you mulch your plants, the idea is not to keep the plants warm – warmth will encourage plant growth during the winter when it should be dormant. If the plants sprout, the cold can desiccate them and allow the entry of bacteria and pathogens that will make the plant ill.

Instead, applying mulch helps keep the soil around your plants a constant temperature. Not only does this help keep your plants dormant during temperature fluctuations, but it also prevents soil heaving.

Soil heaving (or frost heaving) is when the soil contracts and expands in the cold, forcing the plant’s roots above ground.

When Should You Apply?

When applying your mulch in the fall, it is advised to wait until after nighttime temperatures drop and the plants have become dormant. This will prevent the plants from growing when they are supposed to be inactive.

Applying Your Mulch Correctly

Mulching is more than just randomly spreading mulch across your garden. If done incorrectly, it can do more harm than good to your lawn and plants. When spreading mulch in preparation for colder weather, there are several application techniques and rules you should be aware of.

To start, avoid mulch volcanoes or applying the mulch too early or too late in the season, which can cause your plants to suffer from root rot or create moisture and air barriers. Also be sure to calculate how much you actually need to avoid over-mulching and to prevent waste.

When applying, keep the mulch around 2-4 inches deep and a few inches away from the base of your plants. If older mulch is present, mix it up to aerate it and check the depth—in some cases, you may not even need more mulch.

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