Mulch can help protect your plants from cold weather

Once you’ve done your fall garden cleanup, it’s a good practice to follow up by spreading a fresh layer of mulch around trees, shrubs, and other plants in your yard. This will not only keep the yard looking neat, but it will help protect plants from moisture loss and help moderate the winter cycle of temperature variations.

For best results, follow these three key guidelines:

  1. Wait until the first frost before spreading mulch. Applied too early, mulch can keep the soil warm enough to “trick” plants that should be going dormant. By waiting until after the first frost, you will also give mice and other rodents a chance to find other places to nest for the winter.
  2. Apply mulch about 2 to 4 inches deep. A thinner layer will not adequately cover the soil and provide the benefits you’re seeking; a thicker layer isn’t necessary and can suffocate plants.
  3. Apply the mulch evenly and do not pack it down. Remember, the objective is to cover the soil completely while allowing some air to circulate between the mulch particles.

Adding mulch this fall will also give you a head start on controlling weeds in the spring.