I could really use a clone of myself. If there were two of me, I would be making faster progress with the garden. Or better still, I could be triplets. Then the weeds would really be in trouble! So long as there is just me in the singular, I rely on mulch to help me in my war against weeds. Mulch, and lots of it! My favorite mulch is the bags of cedar bark that you can buy at garden centres. If my garden was about 10 square feet, that’s what I would use. It looks nice and its scent is lovely. However, for larger areas, little bags of mulch aren’t practical. A big garden calls for a mountain of mulch, which is delivered to my driveway by a local tree care company, the neatly chipped and shredded remains of their work.
Last week, as I cleared out an overgrown bed of hostas, I laid down a blanket of mulch to keep the weeds from growing back. I’m generous. On a newly weeded area I add 6 inches or more of chipped wood. To maintain garden beds, a layer of mulch about 4 inches deep is recommended. Four inches is enought to discourage the weeds, but not too much to prevent the soil from warming in the spring.
Beyond keeping the weeds down, mulching has other advantages. In hot summer weather, mulch will help to keep plant roots cool. During dry spells, well-mulched soil is protected from drying out. I do very little watering, and count on mulch to help my plants survive drought conditions.
Like any gardening practice, mulching with wood chips has its supporters and detractors. For more information, I will refer you to an article by Linda Chalker-Scott, Ph.D. that ran in Master Gardener magazine: Wood Chip Mulch: Landscape Boon or Bane? There are many mulching options, and you can easily learn more about different approaches through a little internet research. One thing’s for sure: mulching is absolutely worthwhile. As Nike would say, just do it!