The summer months are drawing to a close and the cold, dark winter days are approaching. As the temperature begins to drop, time should be spent preparing the garden so that it can withstand the freezing, winter conditions ahead. Plants, shrubs and trees can be easily damaged and killed in severe temperatures, so it’s important to find ways to protect them so that they can flourish again in the new year.
Mulch is often used as a way to protect plants from the harsh effects of frost, helping the root continue to grow whilst avoiding limp and blackened growth. It’s best to apply mulch during the autumn (or in early spring), though, before the weeds have germinated, so the plants are fully sheltered before the climate shifts.
What is mulch?
Mulch is a loose mixture of materials that is placed on top of soil and around plants. There are considered to be two types: organic and inorganic. Both types suppress the growth of weeds and protect plants, but organic mulch, which is made from grass clippings, leaves, bark and any other dead plant materials, is generally preferred as it gradually releases nutrients into the soil as it breaks down, nourishing plants whilst protecting them. Inorganic mulch includes slate, pebbles, gravel and stone chippings and doesn’t offer these additional benefits.
How does mulch protect plants?
Placing a layer of mulch on top of soil and around plants, shrubs and trees provides a host of benefits. As well as releasing nutrients into the soil, a layer of mulch is also able to insulate plants from the frost and colder temperatures as it acts as a shield – blocking out the frost and any direct sunlight. Also, depending on the type of organic mulch used, it can be a great vehicle in retaining moisture as it conserves water from the soil by reducing the amount that is evaporated, providing further nourishment to plants.
Thick mulches, like those made from garden compost, are a great all-round mulch as they are packed with nutrients, helping to feed and replenish plants, whilst effectively retaining moisture and suppressing the growth of weeds. Leaf mould is another popular option, providing a fantastic, fast-acting soil conditioner despite the lack of nutrients it supplies. Mulches made from bark and wood chippings offer a dense alternative which takes longer to break down, but improves overall soil structure, which can further improve drainage and retention – creating the ideal habitat for plants.
What are the most common problems with mulching?
Even though mulching can provide many advantages, there are a number of things to keep in mind to avoid any potential problems. Firstly, a surplus of mulch can eventually suffocate plants, inhibiting their growth. Regularly raking mulch can alleviate the pressure on plants, though, allowing them to continue to grow whilst garnering the many benefits of mulch. Placing mulch directly on top of the stems of trees or the roots of plants and bulbs can also cause them to soften or grow into the mulch which can welcome a host of diseases, severely damage their overall health.
What tools can help with mulching?
Here at Cobra, we have a range of tools that will make the process of creating mulch simple and easy. The Cobra QS2500 Quiet Shredder is able to shred garden waste into tiny pieces, reducing the overall time it takes for it to break down and the mulch to form. Plus, with its handy 50ltr collection box, it’s easy to collect and store large amounts of garden waste before it needs discarding whilst reducing the amount of clear up. It’s quiet running also means you can cut up garden waste without disturbing neighbours or wildlife!
If you want to use grass clippings for your mulch this winter, the MM51B Mulching Lawnmower offers a side discharge function that dispenses the clippings into neat lines at the side of where you are mowing, making it easy to collect. If you don’t want to use your grass clippings for mulch, its mulching function will automatically mulch the clippings into the lawn, fertilising your grass and reducing the amount of clean-up.
With the colder months approaching, it’s important to find ways to keep your trees, plants and shrubs thriving and with our wide range of tools, mulching has never been so simple and easy.