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Mulch has multiple functions in the garden
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Mulch has multiple functions in the garden

FISHERSVILLE—There are many types of mulch to choose from when buying garden supplies. Some is mixed into soil as a conditioner, while other types are used as a top layer that holds in moisture, stabilizes soil temperature and deters weeds.

"It’s important that you don’t use something that’s going to break down quickly, and something that lasts a long time, because your labor in applying [mulch] needs to be taken into account," said horticulturist Mark Viette of Viette Nurseries.

Also, look for "something that really allows water to go through it and doesn’t allow weeds to grow in it."

Viette is the host of a gardening segment on Real Virginia a monthly television program produced by Virginia Farm Bureau.

When mulch is applied in the spring, it will hold in soil moisture for the dry months ahead. "Normally, the best time to mulch is right before forsythias bloom, but if you miss that, you can still apply mulch later," Viette said. "I prefer pine [mulch],because pine lasts longer than hardwoods. What you find with hardwoods is they break down very quickly, but some of these pine products can last as long as 12 months, 14 months and 17 months."

Weed garden beds before mulching. Viette recommended dumping small piles of mulch and then distributing it into a layer that’s 2 to 3 inches thick. Keep mulch away from plants that reseed themselves, like hellebores, because mulching can prevent the new seeds from germinating.

Contact Pam Wiley, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1128.

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