One major resource for mulch is hardwood chips. It is an ideal mulch because it smothers weeds, conserves soil moisture, regulates soil temperature, adds nutrients to the soil and enhances the visual appearance of a garden. Hardwood chips are also ideal because they resist blowing and washing away and are relatively slow to decompose. However, over time this type of mulch can appear bleached and compacted. The compaction blocks air and water from reaching the soil and roots of the plants. So you will need to loosen hardwood mulch periodically.
Items You Will Need For The Project
You will need these items to achieve the task.
- Work gloves
- Garden rake or pitchfork
- More hardwood mulch if needed.
If you have used hardwood mulch on your garden, then you are aware that it can raise the pH level of the soil as it decomposes. This can cause a problem for plants that favor a more acidic soil. You can alleviate this problem with acidifying fertilizer.
You should also be aware that when organic mulches decompose, they contain nitrogen in the soil. This makes the nutrient unavailable to plants. A sign that your plants are suffering nitrogen deficiency is when they exhibit yellowing older leaves. Simply add a nitrogen supplement to alleviate the problem.
Loosening Hardwood Mulch
The process of loosening hardwood mulch is a relatively easy affair. Four steps are suggested.
1. Use the pitchfork to flip the mulch in the air or turn it over several times. Work small sections of your garden at a time. You can also rake the chips to loosen them up. Use minimum downward pressure so that the pitchfork or rake does not penetrate the soil and damage the roots of the plants. Drag the implement horizontally along the surface to pick up and turn over the mulch.
2. Make sure that the mulch is no closer than 6-inches to 12-inches from any plant stems or trunks. If hardwood mulch is left in contact with a plant, it can cause rotting and may encourage rodents.
3. Add more mulch if the old mulch has decomposed into the soil. Make sure that the layer of mulch is about 3-inches thick.
4. Water new mulch thoroughly to prevent water repelling mycelia mat from forming. The mat forms due to fungi.