One of the best ideas to protect your garden, as the final warm October days start to fade and the first wintry nights set in, is to mulch with a good wood chip or bark. Applying mulch in the fall reduces water loss to soil, suppresses weed growth, and protects plant roots from weather extremes.
With climate changes and the severe extremes of heat and cold, the virtues of wood chips and bark must not be overlooked when planning your winter garden. The high cost of water and added fines for over usage should be motivation enough for you to conserve moisture in your soil and invest in a good mulch or bark.
A good covering of wood chips can drastically inhibit the germination of weeds around your shrubs. Wood chips and bark are particularly good at keeping the surface of your soil dark thus limiting weed growth. Many gardeners have run into problems when using hay or manure for mulching as they contain weed seeds. Wood chips and bark are weed free making it the ideal mulching material.
Constant Temperature Control
One of the great benefits of wood chip mulching is insulation against the elements. Keeping your plant roots at a fairly regular temperature throughout the winter months is invaluable. Wood chips or bark serve as a blanket keeping your roots cooler in hot summer months and warmer on those cold, frosty months.
- Rhododendrons and azaleas
These shrubs are mostly evergreen and keep their leaves all winter. The leaves rely on good moisture in the soil to sustain their foliage and it’s important that the plants don’t lose water faster than they can replace it. By watering the ground well and mulching in the fall, you can insulate the soil from too much moisture loss.
For bulbs, mulching with an organic material will be of great benefit in colder areas like the Northeast. In Vermont, spring-flowering bulbs like tulips and daffodils are planted in late September or early October. The bulbs need time to develop their roots before the ground freezes and they lapse into winter dormancy. To postpone their long winter’s nap, I protect them with a layer of bark mulch.
All in all we can be grateful for the resourceful recycling of trees by Green Solutions and More who make these good quality wood chips available to the public.