Skip to content

Mulching in autumn: why is this maintenance measure so important and what benefits it brings to the garden?

Mulching is a simple and effective way to winterize the garden and save time, money and energy in the spring. Why you should mulch your beds in the fall and the benefits of this maintenance measure, we summarize in the article.

What is mulching?

What plants mulch in autumn

Mulching is an ancient process that also occurs naturally in nature, for example, from falling autumn leaves. Mulching is nothing more than applying a layer of insulating organic matter to the soil surface. The organic mulch provides nutrients to the soil, suppresses weeds, retains moisture in the soil, and can serve like a natural fertilizer.

There is no specific time to mulch – it can be done from spring to late fall. So what’s the point of applying a layer of mulch in the fall?

Mulch the garden in the fall and prepare it for the next gardening season

A little prep work in the garden can save you a lot of work later. Mulching can protect and beautify flower beds in late spring, but it’s also beneficial for fall and winter gardens because it protects roots, prevents weeds and nourishes the soil. Mulch your flower beds this fall to provide short- and long-term benefits to the garden.

Protect perennials from cold weather

Perennials, unlike annuals, come back year after year – or they can if you treat them right. Fall is the ideal time to care for your perennials by adding a layer of mulch around the stems and roots. In lower temperatures, roots that are up in the soil can easily become stressed and freeze. Fine mulch made from leaf compost or needle litter provides the ideal protection. These finer organic mulches decompose more easily than coarse wood chips or bark mulch and provide important nutrients to plants during the winter months.

Perennials mulch in autumn

Tip: When mulching your garden in the fall, make sure the organic material is well incorporated into the soil.

Mulch and enrich soil in the fall.

As the organic matter in the mulch decomposes, it releases minerals and nitrogen that enrich the soil throughout the fall and winter, leading to healthier shoots and flowers in the spring. Mulching in the fall gives soil-improving earthworms and microorganisms extra warmth and good food for the winter. In short, when you add a layer of mulch to your beds, you are nourishing the entire ecosystem of the garden. The key is choosing the right mulch: bark chips for trees, straw for vegetable beds and strawberry beds, needle litter or shredded leaves for ornamental flowers and shrubs.

Reduce soil temperature fluctuations

In many regions, fall is a time of wide weather fluctuations. The cycles of freeze and thaw can do great damage to sensitive root systems, especially those near the surface. Mulching helps protect plant roots by raising the soil’s freezing point and smoothing out temperature fluctuations. The result? Stronger plants that are less susceptible to stress.

Recycle leaves and use for mulching in the fall

Stop throwing away useful leaves and mulch them instead. Applying leaf mulch is a great way to recycle fall leaves while adding nutrients and insulation to your garden beds. First, make sure the leaves are dry. Dry leaves are best for mulching and spreading on the ground. Then shred it with your lawn mower and spread it over your beds.

You can use damp, rotted leaves as an amendment to the soil. Work leaf mold into the soil with a hand cultivator to add nutrients.

Use autumn leaves as mulch for the garden

Stop soil erosion

One of the most damaging effects of winter wind, rain and snow is soil erosion. Mulching prevents soil erosion by creating a barrier between the topsoil and the elements. To best protect flower and vegetable beds, as well as shrubs and trees, apply 5-6 inches of mulch.

If you are dealing with sloping terrain, you may need a little support to keep the mulch in place. One option is to use plastic mulch, which is made of large polyethylene sheets. These black plastic sheets can also prevent weeds from growing. Of course, plastic is not biodegradable, so it has some disadvantages compared to organic mulch.

Suppress weeds

Mulch not only nourishes the soil, but also smothers weeds and deprives them of necessary sunlight. Spread a 5 mm layer of newspaper around plants or anywhere you want to suppress weed growth. Then cover the newspapers with a thick layer of wood chips or 8 to 10 inches of grass clippings, pine bark or straw to bid the weeds adieu.

Care for evergreen plants

Evergreen plants are known for their hardiness and beauty that lasts all winter. But don’t take these green plants for granted. Without proper care, they can become dry and brown in the winter. To prevent this, mulch the soil surface from the root base (where the tree roots branch away from the trunk). The mulch ring should be about 10 inches deep and extend to the edge of the branches.

Mulching in autumn flower beds

Mulching in the fall saves time next spring.

Isn’t it nice to have less work to do in the garden? If you mulch in the fall, you’ll save time and energy in the spring because you won’t have to weed as much. You also save yourself the work of spreading new soil and mulch after the winter snow. Furthermore, you can also save money. Mulched perennials will survive the winter, so you won’t have to spend as much money on new plants next year.

The right amount is crucial

As with all good things, moderation is key when it comes to mulching. According to most experts, mulch should be spread in layers 5 to 10 inches thick. Too much mulch can trap excess moisture, which can lead to root rot and other diseases. Too little mulch allows sunlight and air to penetrate the soil, which encourages weeds. So, on average, you should apply about 7 inches of mulch – a little less mulch around flower beds and a little more around larger shrubs and trees.