Free Download: Spring Planting Digital Magazine

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Sample: Why Mulch Matters for Spring Planting

When the snow melts and the snowdrops start to wake up, it’s time to mulch your gardens for spring. Here at Garden in the Woods, we recycle our leaves to create our own free mulch that retains soil moisture, boosts soil organic matter and protects tender plants from harsh winter temperatures. With 15 acres of gardens to manage, we use a large leaf shredder to vacuum up leaves and shred them into a fine organic medium.

You can do the same thing at home. Rather than raking and disposing of your leaves, shred them with your lawnmower and stockpile them for later use. Many municipalities offer shredded leaves to residents free of charge; however, because the material is derived from residential yard waste, it often contains pesticide residue and animal wastes. It’s always a better idea to recycle your own leaves or purchase leaf mulch from a reputable local business to ensure that you don’t introduce residual chemicals that may harm your garden
plants.

Whether you create your own leaf mulch or buy it, it’s important to watch spring temperatures and re-cover any garden beds where mulch may have diminished over the winter. Apply your leaf mulch at about three- to five-inch depths to allow tender spring plants to emerge and ensure that plenty of oxygen reaches your garden soil. Conventional bark mulch, which is often made from shredded pallets and other building materials, can reduce oxygen levels in soil and act as a physical barrier to emerging perennial plants.