Fall Mulching - Preparing Your Plants for Winter
Updated: Nov 13, 2022
Fall is here and as a result, your garden's palette will soon shift from beautiful shades of brightly colored blossoms to rich shades of gold, red, russet browns, and oranges, along with other beautiful fall colors. However, in addition to the aesthetic beauty of autumn, you will need to make sure you address proper plant maintenance such as fall mulching to ensure your plants thrive.
Now is the time if you still need to discover the value of mulching in the fall. Continue reading to learn more about how proper mulching can help you prepare your flower beds and garden for the harsh cold of the winter season, and why you should apply mulch in the fall.
What time of Year is Best to Apply Mulch?
The time of year you apply mulch is dependent on the type of plants in your flower beds, or garden. Generally, the best time to complete fall mulching is before the first frost. Otherwise, you run the risk of causing serious harm to your plants, causing you to replant certain species of plants
If your garden goals are bright flowering bulbs such as crocus, tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, siberian squill, or snow drops in spring, it is best to plant these varieties in early fall. Planting bulbs during this time will give them plenty of time to establish a strong root system before their winter hibernation. To ensure that bulbs have bright and pronounced blossoms in the spring, apply a layer of quality rubber mulch; not too thick, to provide them with protection from sudden temperature changes and loss of moisture.
On the contrary, plants like rose bushes, necessitate mulching in late fall or early winter. Many expert gardeners do not mulch until after the first hard frost of the year. This is because if you mulch rose bushes too early, they could stay dormant for extended periods and produce either no blooms or inferior ones.
What If I Don't Mulch in the Fall?
If you don’t apply mulch in the fall, you risk the health of young tender roots. Roots can freeze after a frost, or completely dry out from dry weather. To help protect the roots of your plants from extreme temperature fluctuations, heat, or moisture, insulate them with rubber mulch.
It's also important to note that while most plants go dormant in winter, weeds are not. They will continue to germinate, while your plants hibernate. Without the aid of rubber mulch, these nasty weeds can create havoc in your flower beds and garden in the winter months. So, the best remedy is to properly protect your plants with fall mulching to keep your garden and flower beds weed-free as the weather gets colder.
It's time to mulch after you've harvested your pumpkins and autumn vegetables. Fall mulching provides numerous benefits in preparation for winter and is simple to implement. So, if you're wondering, "Do I need to mulch during the fall?" the answer is a absolutely!
Retention of Soil Moisture
It has been documented for a long time that mulch conserves moisture in the soil. Moisture retention may be the most well-known quality of mulch. While test results may differ, it is clear that moisture evaporation from mulch-covered soil is reduced by up to 50%. Whatever you believe, the water-saving value of mulching cannot be overstated, especially in times of water restrictions and drought.
Mulch helps keep the soil from drying out by preventing dew and water from escaping from the subsoil. Contrary to popular belief, dew is not simply the condensation of water from the atmosphere. It is also moisture condensation from air pockets in the soil. As a result, most dew is completely wasted in terms of plant growth unless something on the surface catches it and prevents it from evaporating.
In terms of weed control, mulching effectively, can help eliminate the need for weeding and cultivating. However, there are a few caveats. First and foremost, the mulch itself must be weed-free. Many gardeners have had their best mulching intentions dashed by a single application of weed-infested mulch. They end up introducing more weeds into their garden than they could control.
Second, the mulch should be thick enough to keep existing weed seeds from germinating. Weeds, like most other seeds, require light to germinate. Weeds that try to sprout under mulch wither and die in the dark. Weeds may still find their way through if mulch is applied too thinly or unevenly. So, when applying your shredded rubber mulch, or rubber mulch nuggets, think like a weed and cover all open areas.
Finally, mulch will only partially eliminate weeds. Some weeds are so resilient that they can push through almost any mulch. On the other hand, these should be easy to spot and even easier to pluck when growing in a mulched bed.
The Fundamentals of Fall Mulching
Mulching is best done in the fall during the last warm days of October and the first cold days of November when the air is crisp, and it's still pleasant to be outside. However, before you begin mulching, you should first prepare your garden.
First, clean up dead or dying plants and debris in vegetable or flower gardens. You can compost disease-free plant debris, but keep an eye out for disease symptoms in existing plants. You must deal with or dispose of those, or else they will infect other healthy plants during the winter. Be especially thorough when weeding, ensuring that no spores or other parts come into contact with the plants or the soil.
Next, select the plants that require the most protection from moisture loss, weed infestation, and temperature shock - these plants require mulching first. Examples include bulbs, perennials, and flowers such as rhododendrons.
A thick layer of landscape rubber mulch can keep soil temperatures even, allowing roots to grow and sprout by spring. Perennials and evergreen plants, in particular, require extensive mulching because their leaves lose water to cold air. After the first hard frost of the winter, rosebushes require 10-12 inches of mulching around their base. Mulching rosebushes too early can cause them to lose their dormancy and produce inferior roses.
As a general rule, mulch before the frost arrives. This enables healthy microorganisms and earthworms to work for more extended periods and more efficiently during the winter. In addition, winterizing your garden will be easier if you prepare it properly in the fall.
Quality Rubber Mulch
As you can see, fall mulching for your gardens and flower beds is imperative to the health of your plants. Therefore, using quality mulch is essential. At Rooster Rubber, we provide high-quality rubber mulch, which is easy to care for and requires less maintenance than standard wood mulch. So, are you ready to prepare your garden or flower beds for the cold weather? Check out our selection of mulch and place your order today!