Untreated natural materials as an organic mulch are ideal for providing plants with warmth during winter. Good natural materials for this purpose includes pine straw, wood chips, bark nuggets and straw.
Untreated natural materials as an organic mulch do not include chemicals that could be leached into the soil. They also help to enhance moisture retention, reduce the need to water and helps eradicate weeds. Moreover, mulch insulates the soil and protects the plant roots from extreme temperatures.
Gather the untreated natural materials for organic mulch that will be used. The materials can probably be found a plant nurseries or home improvement stores.
Once you have the pine straw, wood chips, bark nuggets and straw on hand, remove all the weeds from the flowerbed. This activity will prevent weed seeds from germinating in the mulch material. If weeds are already growing, the mulch cannot prevent them.
The untreated natural materials of this mulch are ideal for plants that thrive in an acidic soil. Pine acidifies the soil as it decomposes. Bark or wood chips work well in ornamental beds, and straw is ideal for vegetable gardens.
Applying Organic Mulch
Spread about a 2-inch to 3-inch layer of the materials over the garden bed when the plants are tall enough to stand above the layer. A deep layer prevents quick evaporation and assists in conserving moisture in the soil.
Once the mulch is laid out, pull it back from tree and shrub trunks as well as the stems of smaller plants. Create space of about 3-inches between the mulch and the plants. If mulch is left too close to plants, rot can set in and pests can get close enough to plants to threaten them.
Maintaining The Mulch Layers
Replenish the depth of the mulch once or twice a year. Mulch decomposes and adds nutrients to the soil, so you need more to continue the process over time.
For annual gardens, it is suggested that you turn the old mulch into the soil to quicken decomposition before spreading a fresh layer.
A thick winter mulch benefits tender perennial plants and offers insulation against the cold. To ensure protection against frost, apply 6-inch or thicker layer of mulch.