Mulching a flower bed has benefits for you as well as your garden. A simple task, mulching helps to retain moisture, saves time and labor in controlling weeds, retains warmth on cooler nights, and adds beauty to your curb appeal. If you agree that these benefits are worth a little time and effort, follow these simple tips.
Planning is the key to success.
Look around in your neighborhood at other gardens you find appealing. What colors and designs look like something you would like to see in your yard? Mulch comes in different types and colors. Bark mulch has larger pieces and works best around shrubs and larger plants. The finer, more shredded mulch is best for flowers and small plants. You will find mulch dyed with different colors to match any color scheme you have in mind. I have used black, brown, and brick red in my gardens over the years. Pick a color that works well for you. Next, decide on the type. Mulch can be made from wood chips, coffee beans, pine needles, plant root, and even cocoa beans, to name a few. Be careful to follow any warnings on the packaging – for example, I would not use cocoa beans around animals that cannot eat chocolate.
Measure your garden and decide how much mulch you will need to purchase. For a small garden, I recommend buying mulch in bags. If you have a much larger area to cover, consider having the mulch delivered to your home in bulk. The mulch should be about 4-6 inches deep in a flower bed. Most bags come in 2 cubic feet, which should cover approximately 4-6 square feet per bag.
Work the soil well with a claw or hoe to loosen the soil and allow water to absorb and drain well. At this point, I also add a weed preventer and mix it into the soil. Level the soil and cover with a weed preventing fabric, (sold in rolls at your home improvement or garden supply store). Place edging around the perimeter of the garden to keep the mulch from spilling out when it rains. If the edging is more than your budget allows, you can opt to dig a trench around the garden.
Finishing your garden:
Plant your flowers by cutting an X in the garden fabric large enough to accommodate the size of each flower. Make sure you do not leave soil on top of the fabric as this will leave a place for weeds to grow. Once you have planted your flowers, cover the fabric with the mulch. Do not allow the foliage of the plants to be covered by the mulch, or lay on the mulch, as this can cause plants to rot. Remove any lower leaves of the plants if necessary, to keep the foliage above the level of the mulch. If your plants are still very small, keep the mulch away from the bottom of each plant.
Now that you know how to mulch your flower bed, you will save lots of hours weeding and help to retain the moisture in your garden. However, you will still need to water regularly and pull the occasional weed. But, the rest of the time, you can stand back and admire your beautiful flower bed.