How to use mulch in your garden

Mulching is a technique that involves covering the ground with organic material, which is both neat and smart. When done correctly, it reduces the need for weeding, retains moisture in the soil, and activates soil-dwelling organisms. There are many different mulching materials, and here are tips on various factors to consider depending on the plants in your flower beds and vegetable garden.

richtig mulchen - natalie bauer

6 reasons to mulch

Mulching, or covering the ground, serves many important functions. Proper mulching is not so simple because there are various materials you can use to help your plants and make gardening easier. In essence, mulching contributes to:

1. Weed-Free Bliss: Time-Saving Prevention

Preventing weeds from growing, saving you time on weeding.

2. Sunlight Block: Inhibiting Weed Germination

Inhibiting the germination of weed seeds due to a lack of sunlight.

3. Hydration: Slowing Soil Drying

Slowing down soil drying, reducing the need for watering.

4. Erosion Defense: Minimizing Soil Runoff

Minimizing soil runoff, which can occur during heavy rain, thereby reducing erosion.

5. Organic Support: Nurturing Soil-Dwellers

Depending on the mulch material, it can support soil-dwelling organisms by aiding in material breakdown.

6. Boost Growth for Plants

Some plants, such as many fruit trees, benefit from a mulch layer for optimal growth, with many liking straw.

Richtig mulchen Schritt für Schritt


Before choosing a mulch material, examine your flower beds carefully. What perennials or plants do you have there? What type of soil do the plants prefer? For instance, pine bark makes the soil acidic, something hydrangeas appreciate. Do you already have materials in your garden that you can use, like grass clippings?

Once you’ve selected your mulch material, clear away as much weed as possible from your flower beds, making it harder for them to break through the mulch layer. After weeding, apply the material in a 3-5 cm thick layer. If the layer is too thin, weeds will find their way through; if it’s too thick, it can lead to rot. Spread the material to cover all open spaces so that your entire flower bed is covered. Leave a few centimeters around perennials or plants to allow for growth.

So sieht Miscanthus-Mulch aus


As mentioned, there are many different materials you can use for mulching. Here are the pros and cons of each material based on your plants’ needs:


Grass clippings are an excellent mulching material, partly because it’s often freely available in many gardens and also because it contains valuable nutrients that break down in the soil at a steady pace. When using grass clippings, be careful to ensure no weed seeds have made their way into the clippings.


You can also use leaves from your trees as mulch, especially beneficial during winter using the leaf litter from your trees. This returns nutrients to the soil and provides a tidy appearance for the season. A tip is to avoid using leaves with tannins, such as walnut or oak, for this purpose.


Straw is a popular mulching material in vegetable gardens. Straw is favored by strawberries, tomatoes, and zucchinis as a suitable substrate. Additionally, straw helps keep moisture away from your vegetables. It’s essential to fertilize with nitrogen before applying the mulch since straw depletes nitrogen from the soil as it breaks down. Aim for a slightly thicker layer, between 5 and 10 centimeters.


Bark mulch is a commonly used mulch, but it may not be suitable for all areas because it acidifies the soil during the decomposition process. Be cautious about using it for anything other than plants that prefer slightly acidic soil, such as rhododendrons and American blueberries. However, it can also be used for plants with deep root systems, like shrubs and hedges.


Gravel or pebbles can also serve as mulch but should be used in limited areas. Stones are only suitable for mulching to a certain extent because they accumulate a lot of heat, especially on sunny and hot days, exposing plants to additional heat stress. Additionally, they make soil cultivation challenging. A layer of gravel mulch should be 5 centimeters thick.


Wood chips also work well as mulch material and should be used similarly to bark mulch. Often, different wood species are used in wood chips or wood shavings, primarily coniferous trees, so it’s not always easy to determine whether they deplete nutrients from the soil or make it more acidic.


A favorite among mulch types is Miscanthus mulch. This mulching material, made from elephant grass, is neutral for the soil, provides nutrients over time, and can be easily spread in your flower beds. Moreover, it’s a biodegradable material that fits well in your garden instead of gravel or plastic. The mulch layer should be 3-5 centimeters, even for Miscanthus.

Remember to adjust your choice based on the specific needs of your plants and garden conditions.

Miscanthus-Mulch nach einem Jahr im Staudenbeet


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