Forum home Tools and techniques

Annual Flowerbed Mulch Advise

Hi there,

I'm new to gardening and I was hoping to get a little advise on mulching. My soil is very good in terms of structure but I wanted to add a mulch down on the beds each year to add some nutrients back into the soil. 
I have 2 main questions, what to use and when.

In terms of what to use, would it be best to use a multi-purpose compost, something like John Innes No 3 or a soil conditioner? I would assume that my own compost would be best but i just dont have the space for a compost pile/bin. I am going to try and make leaf mold this year but im not sure how much ill be able to make so will need to buy something in as well.

In terms of when, would it be best to add it in autumn so it can breakdown in the soil ready for the growing season in spring, or add it to the beds in spring when the plants will be growing.

Many thanks for any help 

Posts

  • borgadrborgadr KentPosts: 404
    In terms of timing you could add a mulch any time.  But there are practical considerations that make late winter/early spring the best time:
    1. A mulch will help preserve moisture in the soil (if the soil is already damp!) going into spring - particularly useful if you have a dry spring like we just did
    2. If you mulch in autumn/winter it's not easy to avoid smothering dormant perennials (especially things like peonies that don't want to be too deep) and spring bulbs. Early springtime when early shoots are appearing is perfect - you can see where everything is and mulch around the emerging growth.

    Any organic mulch will benefit the soil in terms of structure. But if the main purpose is to add nutrients, then soil conditioner, manure or homemade compost would be better than multi-purpose.  Regarding adding John Innes #3 as a mulch I don't know - someone else better qualified than me will advise I'm sure.
  • mark.cowardmark.coward Posts: 4
    borgadr said:
    In terms of timing you could add a mulch any time.  But there are practical considerations that make late winter/early spring the best time:
    1. A mulch will help preserve moisture in the soil (if the soil is already damp!) going into spring - particularly useful if you have a dry spring like we just did
    2. If you mulch in autumn/winter it's not easy to avoid smothering dormant perennials (especially things like peonies that don't want to be too deep) and spring bulbs. Early springtime when early shoots are appearing is perfect - you can see where everything is and mulch around the emerging growth.

    Any organic mulch will benefit the soil in terms of structure. But if the main purpose is to add nutrients, then soil conditioner, manure or homemade compost would be better than multi-purpose.  Regarding adding John Innes #3 as a mulch I don't know - someone else better qualified than me will advise I'm sure.
    Thanks borgadr, many thanks for your reply that's really helpful. Ill try and get some soil conditioner and "borrow" a few buckets of compost from my dad :P.

    That's a great point about the perennials, I did mean to ask about mulching over them but you answered how to best deal with them. I wasn't sure if just covering them would cause a problem, but if I mulch around them as you suggested that would make complete sense.


  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,629
    As homemade compost isn't an option for you, well-rotted manure or composted bark or other soil conditioner would be good. A relatively cheap option might be the cheapo kinds of peat-free multipurpose compost - a lot of them aren't very good as potting compost but would be fine for mulching in spring/summer (you might not want the fertiliser element in autumn/winter when plants are dormant, it would wash through by spring).
    Whatever you choose, make sure the soil is good and moist right down before you apply it.
Sign In or Register to comment.