Answer: Any loose organic material placed over the soil, such as bark chips, straw, leaves or aged-compost, is a mulch. The process of applying such materials is called mulching. A mulch can serve in many ways. It can reduce evaporaton of moisture from the soil, reduce or prevent weed growth, insulate soil from extreme or rapid changes of temperature, prevent mud from splashing onto foliage or fruit, protect falling fruit from injury, or make a garden bed look tidy. Organic mulch material also benefits the soil by releasing nutrients as it breaks down. If you dig the mulch material into the soil at the end of the gardening season, it can help enrich the soil, as well. Mulching around plants in the spring will save lots of weeding in the summer! Hope this information convinces you to add a 3"-4" layer of mulch over the bare soil in all your garden beds!
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