Mulching is crucial; during spring, you mulch your plants to suppress weed growth, retain moisture, keep the soil warm, and feed the plants. However, in winter, you mulch your garden to protect your soil and plant roots from the extreme temperatures and winter freezes.
So, winter mulching is the best way to protect plants while they are dormant and protect bare lands from erosion.
Benefits of Winter Mulching
Like spring mulching, winter mulching has a range of benefits, from protecting the plants to conserving the soil structure. Here are some winter mulching benefits;
- Protects Plants from Freezing and Thawing:
Winter mulching helps insulate the plants from rapid freezing and thawing, which causes the frosting out of shallow-rooted plants and bulbs and breaking of delicate grafts.
- Protects Deciduous Plants:
During winter, there are temperature fluctuations occasioned by a brief warm spell. If you fail to mulch your garden, the temperature rise may cause premature dormancy breaking, thus triggering new growth during winter. The onset of winter frost causes winter dieback to the newly grown plant.
- Maintains Steady Soil Temperature:
Winter mulching is crucial in maintaining the soil temperature since it acts as an insulating blanket to the soil. The mulch acts as a protective barrier to soil and air, thus protecting the plants from extreme temperature fluctuations.
What To Use For Winter Mulch
The primary purpose of winter mulching is to protect the soil and plant while allowing air and water movement through the mulch. Therefore, you can use any coarse-textured materials that will enable sufficient air and water through it. You can mulch your garden using;
- Shredded leaves
- Strays/hay alongside pine or evergreen boughs
- Snow cover
When To Apply Winter Mulch
Several factors affect the ideal timing of applying the winter mulch, for instance, the winter duration, the type of vegetation, and the severity of the winter. Ideally, use the winter mulch right after the first hard frost (when the temperature drops to below 25 degrees Fareinnhght)—applying the winter mulch before the hard ice weakens the plant making them more vulnerable to future frosts.
How to apply the mulch? When mulching, ensure you leave a 1 to 2 inch free of mulch around plants and ensure you spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plants.
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