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When to Mulch in the Fall

Mulching is not a one-time process. In fact, we often recommend mulching 6-10 times throughout the growing season to replenish mulch as it breaks down. The final mulch session should happen sometime in the autumn to protect plant roots from harsh winter freezes. Follow this guide to learn when to mulch in the fall.

Benefits of Autumn Mulching

Autumn mulching serves several purposes. The biggest benefit is that it insulates the ground during the winter to keep roots warm and nutrients accessible. Mulching reduces soil erosion, helps with water drainage, and keeps moisture around the root structures. It also provides a bed of nutrients for plants to munch on when they come out of dormancy. Finally, a nice mulch bed can help your landscaping look well cared for, even in the dead of winter.

When to Do the Last Mulch Top-off of the Year

Apply the last layer of mulch right after the first hard freeze of the year. This will give you a chance to cut back perennials and insulate the garden bed before persistent cold weather. If you wait until it’s too late, you may be trapping snow and ice under the mulch bed, which could do more harm than good.

How Thick Should My Mulch Bed Be in Fall?

We usually recommend a 4-inch mulch bed for weed control, but in the fall, you can scale back to about 3 inches. The goal here is to still allow some airflow and water during the winter without sacrificing the effectiveness of the mulch shield. Too little mulch may not protect the roots, but too much may block the plants from getting nourishment.

General Tips for Mulching in Fall

Mulching in fall isn’t much different than mulching any other time of the year, but there are a few techniques you can use to shift into the winter months. Follow these fall mulch tips from Berns Landscaping:

  • Lay chicken wire down to anchor mulch in windy areas. If you find yourself raking mulch in the winter because it blows around too much, the wire will help keep it in place.
  • Don’t water the mulch in the winter. This water will turn into trapped ice in the soil, which may lead to a slew of plant health problems.
  • Don’t disturb the mulch once its installed. You can remove it, turn it and cultivate the soil below in the spring, but keep the mulch where it is for the winter months.
  • Leave leaves on the mulch bed if they fall there. This provides additional insulation – no need to rake the leaves up unless you don’t like the way they look.
  • Plan ahead for spring mulching. We have a whole guide about When to Start Mulching in the Spring to give you a head start.
  • Choose the right mulch for your garden and climate. Review the different types of mulch available and select the best option for your needs and budget.

If you’d like the pros to handle mulching for you, contact Berns Landscaping at (586) 756-1145. We will customize a lawn and garden plan to keep your property pristine throughout the year!