Mulching questions

LG_LG_ gardens in SE LondonPosts: 2,422

I have read many times about the need to mulch beds in autumn / spring. A good 2" deep, they say. Every year, they say. I confess that I had assumed until recently that this was something only for the Monty Dons of this world, but having been looking in on this site for a year or so, it seems it's something that a lot of people do. My soil could certainly do with some improvement, so I have a few mulch-rookie questions:

1. 2" deep across all my beds, in an average suburban garden, is a lot of mulch. Tonnes? Where do you get it / do you get it delivered? I don't have a car so most large amounts of anything have to be delivered here. 

2. Do you do it every year? I know it'll scrunch down but doesn't the height of your beds increase a lot over the years? If not, how come?

3. What do you recommend as a mulch for me? The soil is not terrible but there are a lot of trees and shrubs, including conifers, taking a lot out of the soil and in places it could definitely use some beefing up. 

Please share your mulching wisdom!

'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
- Cicero


  • CloggieCloggie Posts: 1,177

    Funnily enough, I am battling the same dilemma myself because my plants are wilting in the heat as the clay soil they are in is not retaining any moisture (in fact it's baking and turning into pottery!).

    I set about mulching the clematis in particular and realised that it takes an awful lot of organic material to do this.

    I have 6 compost bins and collect leaves in bags behind the shed as leaf mulch but this takes a year to rot down and I've only been here 2 years so neither the compost or leaf mould are keeping up right now.

    I am a little scared of the Council compost because there could be bindweed, ground elder and all sorts in there (they say not, but I'm still scared).

    I went out and bought farmyard manure in bags but it doesn't go far and I peeled open an old leaf mould bag that I brought with me and it went nowhere.

    I would like to know how others deal with this en masse, cheaply, but I think the answer might be the dreaded Council recycling.  I have used this in the past but only in a raised bed.  Do others think this is a good bunce to cracking, clay soil?


  • CeresCeres Posts: 1,770

    I have a shredder so that all shrub and hedge prunings can be turned into mulch. I leave it to mature for a few months before using it on the flower beds where it gradually rots down and becomes part of the soil. I also use home-made compost. Of course none of this is enough to give a decent covering so different parts of the garden get mulched every year. Its not a perfect system but it is free.

  • I tend to use either wood chip or farm manure mixed with topsoil or peat. Using this means less weeding, and I also try not to walk on it so as to prevent it from compacting.  The weather and garden worms do most of the work but I find this certainly improves the soil structure.  Hope this helps Cloggie.

  • CloggieCloggie Posts: 1,177

    I do have a shredder and constantly feed the heaps but they do take time so I guess it's a waiting game - eventually I'll get around every bed and mulch them all.

    Hope this discussion is helping you too LG the L

  • LG_LG_ gardens in SE LondonPosts: 2,422

    I don'tthink I'll ever be able to produce enough to use. I have two compost heaps and collected a bulk bag of leaves last autumn that are rotting down nicely (but nowhere near a bulk bag full now!). I was thinking maybe I should buy in loads of manure or something this winter, if I can find a cheap and reliable source, to do it 'properly', then do it piecemeal each year thereafter. I have a tonne of guinea piggy compost, but I'm saving that to put in the raised beds I'm making. I need to buy in some some topsoil for those too. This gardening lark is expensive! If I order some topsoil, maybe I could get some mulch in the same order?

    Last edited: 18 August 2016 00:07:47

    'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
    - Cicero
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 13,560

    If you order in bulk it is cheaper than by the bag. If you have a farmer nearby who rents out stables, make some enquiries. I get a full tipper load of really well rotted mix of cow manure bedded on straw and horse manure bedded on  wood chip. It costs £40 for a tipper load. Of course you have to have somewhere to store it.

    I also shred as much of the hedge prunings as I can and mix it with kitchen veg waste and grass clippings to make compost. Autumn leaves I load into the one tonne builders bags to rot.

    If you just want mulch as opposed to soil improved, try the local tree surgeon.

    Last edited: 18 August 2016 07:31:15

    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • PosyPosy Posts: 1,593

    A lot depends on where you live. In my local paper there are often adverts for horse or farm manure, some offering delivery. This may come in bags or in a tipper. Bags are expensive if you need a lot. I do use a council run scheme but it is not recycling but stable waste, delivered in those huge bags the builders merchants use. It's good stuff. It certainly is a good idea to mulch if you can because it improves the soil dramatically. I don't know how many inches to put on, I just bung on what I can, it's all good. One point: the mulch will tend to preserve the condition you have - if the soil is waterlogged it will be slow to dry out and if it is very dry, it will be sheltered from rain, so don't mulch in extreme conditions. And no, your soil won't get higher and higher, it will all settle down.

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  • plant pauperplant pauper Posts: 6,236

    I tried to start off with a system...image

    1 for filling , 1 for festering and 1 for using. Now I have three enormous compost bins full to the neck festering and none ready for use. 

    I'm still producing enough stuff to fill three more and have nowhere to put it so a lot of it goes to recycling. None, so far, has gone on my garden!!!

    I'm no help at all really. image

    ps I put my guinea pig cleanings into a bucket, add some water and allow to "stew" for a couple of days and then drizzle gently over the compost heaps to give them a bit of a kick. image Nice! image

  • Mark56Mark56 Windsor, BerkshirePosts: 1,653

    The stable not far from here leaves lots and lots of bags of manure for free just outside their gates. You think you've picked up lots but you're right, it never ends up enough.

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