'To mulch or not to mulch', that is not much of a question for most gardeners, including myself, and many blog posts have been written on the subject already, extolling its virtues to retain moisture and aid in the never-ending struggle with weeds. Despite this I have not put down much in my own gardens to-date.
I have been too busy planning and planting.
I think of mulch as the icing on a cake, insofar as it should be the last thing I do once I am comfortable with the overall make up of my garden. For example in my Sun and Monet Gardens which I created in the fall of 2012 there was simply too much movement of plants last summer as I refined my plans, and digging through mulch every time I made a switch would have made the whole process unbearably slow.
In their second full summer however many areas of the garden are now feeling full, properly planned and ready for mulch.
Yet still I hold off.
I still need to add a layer of bulbs in most places now that all of the perennials are in place, and until I do the idea of digging through an additional layer of mulch this fall is simply too much, so I will hold off - for now.
While most people seem to agree that mulching is worth it, not everyone agrees. The other day my neighbour mentioned that he did not mulch because it did not actually hold back the weeds and while he is correct that it will not eliminate them completely, it certainly makes a difference as evidenced in the photo below.
On the right-hand side is an area that was thick with Creeping Bellflower that I covered with cardboard and mulch last year and as you can see some of these attractive but aggressive weeds are poking through, especially at the edges. However when you compare it to the left-hand side, where no mulch was laid and every inch is green with weeds, the benefit becomes crystal clear.
Over the course of the course of the summer, in areas where I will NOT be adding spring bulbs in the fall, I will be adding in a layer of mulch.
So while mulch is not a silver bullet in the war on weeds it is an important tool in the gardener's toolkit and I look forward to the help it will provide in keeping the weeds at bay.
How about you, do you mulch extensively, strategically or not at all?