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Mulching (weed suppressant)

This year I have widened my borders and put in a lot more plants. I would like to keep the weeds at bay and would like help with suggestions please. I have heard of smulch and have used Westland's ground cover (which was rather good) I do not have a compost heap. Any suggestions of a reliable mulch that I can purchase would be appreciated. Also, could you tell me when is the best time to do it? and do you label your plants? as I feel once buried, I won't remember what is under there. Which also makes me wonder, if you have a thick layer of mulch can your plants still get through in the spring? I am rather confused!! (sorry) 
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  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,021
    Just leave a little space round the crown of any perennial when you put a mulch on. That way, they'll be fine if you get a lot of rain/snow, which could cause a bit of rotting. Plants will still find a way through mulch though.
    I use old compost from pots, or bark, just to give the borders a tidy appearance over winter, but I also apply compost or well rotted manure at various times of year.
    Most people do a mulch in autumn/early winter,  or in spring before it gets drier, to retain moisture, but it depends on your local climate. We get very regular rain, so it doesn't really matter when we apply it. 
    I occasionally label/mark where bulbs are, in case I want to plant something later. It saves chopping them in half, although it still happens now and again.  ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • I used manure last October and I've barely had any weeds of note all this year.
  • Off topic but can anyone explain how a manure or compost mulch stops weeds growing? I would have thought it an open invitation for weed seeds to land and germinate? Am I missing something? 
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116
    It blocks out light.
  • Fire said:
    It blocks out light.
    But if a seed lands on top of it? 
  • amancalledgeorgeamancalledgeorge South LondonPosts: 2,307
    I've used soil improver as mulch this year on a couple of beds and it worked really well. Any weeds that grew on the surface were very easy to remove as their roots hadn't reached the soil. Money well spent and will extend to the rest of my planting areas.
    To Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,687
    I think the idea is you continue to cover new layers each year, you 'limit' weeds, but definitely not blocking out all weeds. Mulch is more about protecting the soil surface from drying out quickly in the heat and minimising big temperature changes.

    Not as cold in the winter and not as hot in the summer. On heavy soils, helps to break down and create a more manageable soil over the years, and on light soils helps to bulk up and create a more richer soil.

    Bark chip type mulching tends to keep more weeds out, so more suitable for areas where the soil is not disturbed often. Tend to suit shrubs/tree areas. Plants will push through mulching. If you already have plants, do as Fairygirl suggests, scoop around it and leave them exposed. Some plants die back completely, others have a few leaves that peep through all winter, so no need to smother those.
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116
    As mentioned, mulching has all sorts of purposes, reducing watering needs, enriching soil, reducing weeds and making them easier to take out. I use wood chip (free from a local furniture maker) in some places and a mix of manure and home made compost in others. I generally get few weeds coming up. Pretty much the only things that self seed are the plants from my own garden.
  • Fire said:
    It blocks out light.
    But if a seed lands on top of it? 
    It smothers the annual seeds and perennial weeds. Ones that germinate in the mulch are very easy to pull because the mulch material is much lighter than the soil below.
  • Thanks for clearing things up everyone. OP sorry for hijacking your thread! 
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