Mulch: Grass Mulch, Mulching Plant Crowns, Decaying Mulch - Knowledgebase Question

Rochester, MN
Question by gutler
December 31, 2000
I'm a new gardener and I have some questions about mulching. If I use grass as mulch, do I have to compost it first, or it can it be applied directly? Will grass mulch promote the growth of grass in unwanted areas? I read in your FAQ section not to mulch over the crowns of plants because they may rot, but to mulch the surrounding areas instead. I would think the crown of the plant needs the protection of the mulch the most. Finally, if I dig the mulch into the soil in the fall, will it decay over the winter, or will there be big chunks of it left in the spring when I may be planting new things?


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Answer from NGA
December 31, 2000

0

trees is not recommended as it will cause moisture to collect there and may promote rot or fungal problems. It can also encourage rodents and insect pests to take shelter and/or feed there.

Perennials that are hardy in your zone do not usually need protection over the top. It is enough to mulch the soil surrounding them. However, to protect marginally hardy perennials, some gardeners will layer evergreen boughs or possibly oak leaves (these do not pack down but instead stay fluffy) to help block the wind and add a modicum of insulation. Since these are "airy" they will not trap moisture in the crowns. These extra layers need to be removed from the crowns in early spring so they do not delay the plant's coming out of dormancy.

I hope this helps clarify the mysteries of mulching. As with so many aspects of gardening, the rules are not as strict as we might like, but instead involve a lot of "learn as you go". With a little trial and error you will have it down pat. trees is not recommended as it will cause moisture to collect there and may promote rot or fungal problems. It can also encourage rodents and insect pests to take shelter and/or feed there.

Perennials that are hardy in your zone do not usually need protection over the top. It is enough to mulch the soil surrounding them. However, to protect marginally hardy perennials, some gardeners will layer evergreen boughs or possibly oak leaves (these do not pack down but instead stay fluffy) to help block the wind and add a modicum of insulation. Since these are "airy" they will not trap moisture in the crowns. These extra layers need to be removed from the crowns in early spring so they do not delay the plant's coming out of dormancy.

I hope this helps clarify the mysteries of mulching. As with so many aspects of gardening, the rules are not as strict as we might like, but instead involve a lot of "learn as you go". With a little trial and error you will have it down pat.

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