At Turf Managers, we believe fall mulching is key to healthy landscaping. Many gardeners swear by always applying it in the spring months. But we fall squarely into the camp of mulching in the fall as the most ideal option. Much like when applied in the spring, autumn mulching adds and replenishes nutrients to the soil that have broken down and been depleted through the spring and summer growing seasons.
Fall mulching, however, has a few additional benefits.
The Benefits of Mulching in the Fall
- Autumn mulching provides a layer of warmth. This allows earthworms and microbes to stay active in the soil longer, thus improving the soil. Insulating the soil also tempers the swings of the freezing and thawing cycles that soil and roots are subjected to during the harsh winter months.
- Mulching in the fall is also critical for moisture retention. Winter in Middle Tennessee is a drier season. Fall mulch combats the dry winter air by trapping dew and water drawn up from the subsoil. This prevention of evaporation allows the water to cycle back into the soil, keeping your perennials healthy.
- Not only do you have one more opportunity to enjoy the beautiful fall temperatures by taking on this task in the cooler months ahead, but you’ll save yourself loads of time when the busier spring gardening season comes around.
- While weeds are not something you often worry about during the winter months, mulching in the fall will help prevent weeds, not only during the dormant season, but even as spring begins.
How to Mulch in the Fall
Now that we’ve talked about a few of the “whys,” lets go over the “hows.” There are a few different tactics to use when mulching in the fall that you wouldn’t normally use when mulching right before the garden begins to bloom. And they’re important.
First and foremost, wait until after the first hard freeze. This allows you to cut back the perennials – also important!. Next, think of the mulch as a winter coat. You want it thick enough to insulate and keep the ground warm, but not so thick that air flow or water seepage cannot get through. An evenly spread layer about 2” thick should do nicely.
If you’re mulching around trees, think more donut, less volcano. Leave a bit of space and don’t place the mulch right up against the base of the tree. Keep an evenly spread layer. Remember, the goal is to protect the roots, which spread out a fair distance (4-5 foot diameter, depending on the age and size of the tree). If you build the mulch layer up flush against the tree base like a volcano, you increase the risk of decay around the base of the bark from excessive moisture.
Let’s Get Your Yard Ready for Fall
At Turf Managers, we are here to answer questions and meet your landscaping needs. Call now at 615-269-7706 for a consult and to get on our calendar for fall mulching! Or, email us at email@example.com for pricing and scheduling.