Winter is coming, which means it’s almost time to start bundling up for the colder months. You’re probably bringing those thick sweaters out of storage and switching to warmer flannel bed sheets, but did you know it’s time to bundle up your flower beds and plants, too? Putting down mulch in the fall will help protect your plants as well as the soil underneath during winter — keeping them healthier and ready to bounce back in spring. Should you mulch in the fall? The answer, for many reasons, is yes, and here’s why:
Why Mulch in the Fall?
Because mulch creates a blanket of sorts between your plants during the cold winter season, it serves to protect them from the effects of the weather. For example, a fresh coat of mulch in autumn will help keep the soil temperature underneath more regulated and warmer. When soil temperatures drop suddenly during winter, it can cause damage to root systems or even kill the plants.
Mulch also serves to protect your plants during winter by helping them retain moisture. Mulch can serve as a sponge to draw moisture from the air and keep it close to your plants. Mulch also helps suppress weeds. Rubber mulch, in particular, does an exceptional job at keeping weeds from surfacing and choking your plants.
Preparing Your Garden for Winter
Before you get started preparing your garden or flower beds for winter with fresh mulch, you’ll need to clear any dead plants that might be there. After you take care of any dead plants or weeds that might be hanging around your garden, you should identify any plants that will need higher protection from the winter. These include bulbs, rose bushes, rhododendrons and perennials.
Rose bushes, in particular, require a lot of protection — with a thick layer of about 10 inches of mulch recommended around their bases. However, this should not be done until after the first hard frost of the year. Mulching too soon can prevent rose bushes from becoming dormant early enough, resulting in stunted flowers.
Other than rose bushes, mulch your garden before the first frost arrives. It’s generally agreed that the best time to mulch a garden in the fall is toward the end of October and the start of November, when the air is cooler but before temperatures drop significantly.
Mulching your garden or flower beds is one of the most important fall lawn care tips you can follow. Winter is a difficult time for most plants, so make sure yours are sufficiently protected so they can make it through the long, hard winter safe and warm.