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Gardening with Laurie: Mulch good for bare soil

By By Laurie Garretson
Aug. 2, 2012 at 3:02 a.m.

Laurie Garreston

August is here, and as of now, it looks as though our chances for any significant rain in the near future are slim to none.

Although we have been very fortunate to have had rain the past couple of months, we might be settling into another dry period.

With August and September typically being very hot and dry, we need to take precautions to help keep our landscapes in good shape.

Being in a drought the past few years does seem to have opened some people's eyes to the fact that we must conserve our water supplies.

One way we gardeners can save water is to mulch all our planting areas. Mulching not only helps to hold moisture in the soil, but it will also help to keep root systems cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Mulch also helps to keep weeds out, helps with erosion control and with soil compaction.

There are many types of mulches to choose from. There are organic and inorganic types. I usually prefer organic types of mulch because as they decompose they add back to the soil.

But in some circumstances, inorganic works out better.

When determining the amount of mulch needed for an area, apply enough to form a 3- to 4-inch depth around plantings.

Never place any mulch directly against plants. Always leave a few inches between the plants and mulching material. You do not want to retain moisture against trunks of trees or shrubbery. This would not be a good thing.

Any bare soil area in a landscape should be heavily mulched.

You see nature doesn't like bare soil. Bare soil can easily erode, so weeds move in to cover the soil.

Four to 5 inches of mulch in these areas will help to keep the weed growth down.

Just by mulching an empty planting area provides a nicer look than the bare soil. You can also place drip irrigation systems under your mulch for a cleaner look.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all your weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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