Mulching the garden is a very popular method to provide it with sufficient nutrients with the help of natural materials.
In order to create the maximum effect, the question arises, when to mulch the garden? So at what time or season should you mulch the garden?
The garden can be mulched all year round at any time of the year. Depending on the timing, this has a different goal, such as fertilizing in the spring, cooling the soil in the summer, preventing weeds in the fall, or preventing premature sprouting in the winter. However, vegetables should be mulched only when the seedlings are at least 10 cm high, which should be 4-6 weeks after sowing, depending on the species.
When to mulch the garden?
There is no right or wrong time to mulch the garden. Whether you mulch in spring, summer, fall, or even winter doesn’t matter much at first, because mulching at all times of the year has a specific purpose.
I will explain the advantages and disadvantages of mulching at different times of the year in the following sections.
Garden mulching in spring
If you want to mulch your garden in spring, it is best to do it when the ground is no longer frozen. Depending on the weather, this should be the case in March or April at the latest.
So as long as there is no more ground frost, it is a good time to mulch the beds and the rest of the garden.
If you are preparing the beds for sowing, mulching helps to improve the nutrient supply in the soil.
However, if you have already sown the first vegetables, you should make sure that, if at all, only very little (max. 1 cm) and very fine mulch material, or none at all, is given out. This is because there is a risk that the seedlings will suffocate under the weight of the mulch material rather than it helping them.
If the beds are not yet planted in the spring, you should make sure to use mainly nutrient-rich mulch materials that can be worked into the soil very well and easily.
These can be compost or classic bark mulch, for example.
If you want to know more about the different organic mulch materials and their effect, application & advantages and disadvantages, then check out this article.
Garden mulching in summer
If you want to mulch your garden in the summer, you can do so throughout the summer months, from about the end of May or June through September.
Similar to mulching in the spring, the purpose of mulching the garden in the summer is to release nutrients to the beds and plants.
However, because temperatures are higher in the summer than in the spring, mulching serves another purpose during the hot months.
The mulch protects the soil from drying out and also balances the soil temperature or moisture.
Garden mulching in autumn
You can mulch the garden in the fall between September or October and November, preferably before the first frosts come or on frost-free days when the ground is not frozen.
The main purpose of mulching in the fall is to help the soil retain heat and moisture better and to suppress weed growth, so that the plants are stronger through the winter or the beds are ideally prepared for the next year.
Especially bark mulch but also a straw or leaf mixture or a suitable green manure can protect the soil from frost and cold during the cold season.
Want to find out which green manure is right for your garden, check here.
Garden mulching in winter
The garden can also be mulched in winter, and it is best to do this after there have been the first heavy frost nights. Depending on the weather, this can sometimes be as early as November, or as late as December or January.
In winter, rather coarse mulching materials, such as straw, leaves or perennial waste should be used.
Mulching in winter has a number of advantages. First, the mulch material keeps soil temperatures consistently cool, protecting plants from premature sprouting should air temperatures rise briefly.
In addition, the mulch material keeps soil moisture constant and prevents siltation or leaching of the soil.
Similar to mulch materials that are spread in the fall, mulch also composts slowly over the winter, constantly releasing nutrients into the soil.
So you can mulch your garden all year long. Depending on when and what time of year you apply the mulch, you’ll accomplish different goals, such as fertilizing in the spring, cooling the soil in the summer, preventing weeds in the fall, or preventing premature sprouting in the winter.
When should you mulch the different plants in your garden?
When to mulch beds
Vegetable beds of all types can be mulched at different times throughout the year.
It is recommended to mulch first in the spring, before the beds are planted. At that time, lawn clippings or compost, which release many nutrients into the soil, are most suitable.
Once the beds are planted, you should not mulch the beds at first to ensure that the seeds and seedlings are not smothered.
Another time you can mulch vegetable beds is when the vegetables are tall enough, at least 10 cm. Also then lawn clippings are very good for mulching.
Last but not least, you can mulch harvested beds in the fall or winter to best prepare them for the next year.
Green manure, compost, hedge trimmings or perennial waste are suitable for this purpose.
When mulch tomatoes
Tomatoes can be mulched all year round. That is, after the young plants are at least 10-15 cm tall, the first mulching can be done in spring or early summer – around May – until late summer and the last tomato harvest.
If you want to know what materials can be used to mulch fruit, vegetables or even perennials and grasses, it is best to look at the article linked here on the right.
When mulch potatoes
Similar to tomatoes, potatoes can also be mulched throughout the year. Also with potatoes, the young plants should be at least 10 cm tall before mulching, otherwise there is a risk that the plantlets will suffocate on the mulch.
Normally, potatoes are planted around April, so the first mulching can be done around May.
When to mulch strawberries
Strawberries should never be mulched during flowering, roughly between March and June. This could negatively affect the pollination of the flowers.
As soon as strawberries show the first small fruits, usually in June to July, strawberries should be mulched for which straw is best suited.
When to mulch raspberries
There is no wrong or right time to mulch raspberries, so you can mulch raspberries all year round.
Whether with lawn clippings, bark mulch or hedge trimmings, raspberries can be mulched with a variety of materials, which not only nourishes the soil but also provides a firm base on which to harvest raspberries.
When to mulch a meadow orchard
Nowadays, after mowing orchard meadows, the cuttings are often not removed. Conversely, this means that meadow orchards can be mulched with your own grass clippings as often as you mow them.
Since orchard meadows are mowed an average of 2 to 3 times per year, usually in the summer to fall, they can also be mulched each time they are mowed.
When to mulch lawn or meadow
You can leave lawn clippings on the lawn itself as mulch at any time. So whenever the lawn is mowed, from spring through fall, the lawn can be mulched.
A regular or wildflower meadow can also be mulched. Normally, meadows are only mowed 1-3 times a year, usually in late summer or fall, so they can be mulched.
When to mulch roses
It’s best not to mulch roses at all, so regardless of the time of year, just don’t apply mulch.
On the one hand, this is because roses generally prefer open, airy locations. On the other hand, leaves with possible fungi can settle in the mulch, and the mulch can preserve fungal spores until next year.
When to mulch hedge
Hedges can be mulched all year round without any problems. Ideally, you can spread the hedge trimmings themselves under the hedge as mulch.
Since a hedge should be trimmed at least twice a year, once in spring and once in fall, you can also mulch a hedge at least twice a year.