The benefits of apply mulch, whether it is hardwood, stone, or pine straw, are noted as
- Prevents weed growth (weeds can germinate in hardwood mulch if spread too thin)
- Conserves moisture in the soil
- Cools soil surface and stabilize soil temperature
- Reduces heaving (plant roots forced upward out of soil) of small plants as a result of alternate freezing and thawing of the soil in the autumn, winter, and spring.
- Adds organic matter to soil
- Reduces soil erosion on slopes
- Keeps fruits, vegetables, and flowers cleaner (prevents mud splashing during rain fall)
- Improves aesthetics of the landscape and adds to property value
Ideal mulch conditions are 2-3" deep for hardwood and pine straw. Stone mulches should have a layer of weed barrier/landscape fabric underneath to prevent the stones from sinking into the soil over time. Stone mulch with a depth of 2" is perfect for landscape beds.
Be sure not to mound up the mulch around the base of plants, this prevents them from being able to breath and can lock moisture around the base causing rot or pest damage.