To mulch or not to mulch

Mulch is nature’s freebie so use it!

The idea of mulch is to add a layer of insulation on top of the soil preventing sudden changes on the soil temperature {from either freezing or thawing} fluctuations, which can compromise the root systems of tender perennials. Northern regions with reliable snow coverage have the benefit of snow mulch – natures own insulation however snow coverage can vary and cold snaps without proper snow coverage threaten tender perennials and transplants.

Mulching materials should be organic in matter and should remain loose around the plant so as not to suffocate. If the mulch compacts into a pancake it could create a wet environment for the perennial. A wet environment can cause mold, fungus, and disease and invite pests. I prefer mulched leaves; a mix of different kinds is best but experiment by all means. I’ve heard that maple leaves are particularly prone to compressing into a “pancake” layer. I like my oak leaves mulched through my lawnmower, they mesh together well. For my taller bushier perennials, {as in my rosettes, or roses} i will put a tomato cage around the plant to catch the mulch.  If you don’t have adequate leaves or leaves of your desiring, ask a neighbour to save some for you. Alternatively you can mix leaves with cedar bark or use in combination with pruned evergreen boughs.

The general rule for mulching perennials is to mulch after the ground has frozen. Apply mulch by piling on top of your plants to a dept of 6 to 8 inches. The depth of the mulch will depend somewhat on the soil underneath. Sandy soil will require more insulation that clayey soil. Elevated areas or areas exposed more precariously to the elements may warrant more protection as well.

Come spring the perennials will grow right through the mulch. Remove mulch from the crowns gradually in the spring as the soil thaws. You can remove the mulch completely when the ground has thawed completely.  {If you are not sure check the temperature of the soil, it should be 4 degrees Celsius or warmer.}

To Mulch or nor to Mulch was an article I wrote for the Perennial Workshop at Sage Garden on September 28, 2011

This entry was posted in Garden, Outdoor Living & Breathing Spaces, Photography, Uncategorized by The Perched Bird. Bookmark the permalink.

About The Perched Bird

The Perched Bird's works in chorus with Karin, an Artist/Designer and is engaged in categorically showcasing her designs and creations. From art prints and paintings, textile designs, to wool concoctions, to her spin on day to day to culinary and garden achievements, Karin's posts and artifacts will leave you stimulated. Orders for knitted items can be placed at any time. A page of prices is coming soon! Please leave a comment! Emails to:

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