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Mulch Basics and Resources

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

-- A one- to two-inch layer of mulch helps suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. As it breaks down, it provides organic matter to the soil.

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-- Organic mulch comes in many forms, including shredded hardwood bark, pine bark, pine needles, shredded cedar and cypress, wood chips and colored bark. Make your own mulch with shredded and semi-decayed leaves, known as leaf mold, or from rotted and screened compost.

-- Mulch can be ordered and delivered in bulk, which will reduce the cost of mulching large areas. Mulch merchants sell it by the cubic yard and may require a minimum amount for a delivery. A cubic yard of mulch, laid to a depth of two inches, will cover about 160 square feet.

-- Bagged mulch is more expensive but far easier to carry and spread than a huge pile of bulk mulch.

-- Mulch that smells of vinegar or worse has been improperly stored and contains harmful acids.

-- For more information on mulch, check out:

Maryland Cooperative Extension's fact sheet at http://extension.umd.edu/publications (click "Lawn, Garden & Home," then "Mulches for the Home Garden").

Virginia Cooperative Extension's fact sheet at http://pubs.ext.vt.edu (click "Gardening & The Environment," then "Mulching for a Healthy Landscape").

Rutgers Cooperative Extension's fact sheet at http://njaes.rutgers.edu/pubs (search for "Problems With Over-Mulching Trees and Shrubs").

A.H.


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