Mulching and compost
Simple changes in the garden, such as mulching and composting can improve the efficiency of water use by reducing evaporation, improving water infiltration and storage in the soil and keep your garden happy, even during times of drought.
Mulch is a protective blanket for your soil and essential to maintaining a water efficient garden. It not only helps conserve water and reduces the need for irrigation, but also reduces the soil temperature and improves the health of your garden. Mulch helps to:
- Reduce the watering needs of plants by up to 70% by reducing evaporation of water from exposed soil.
- Moderating the soil temperature, keeping soil cool in summer and warm in winter, reducing water loss and stress on plants.
- Slows run off, improves the intake and storage of water and reduces erosion; improving the drought resistance of plants,
- Improves the soil quality soil and health of the plants, especially when using a nutrient ruch composted mulch.
- Keeps the weeds away, meaning more time to enjoy your garden.
QUICK TIPS FOR APPLYING AND MAINTAINING MULCH
- Remove all weeds first.
- Break up the soil and water well.
- Spread mulch evenly across the soul surface to the recommended depth; your local nursery can guide you.
- Clear mulch from the base of plant stems to avoid disease.
- If the mulch becomes dry and repels water, rake it over to break up the sureface and then water.
- If weeds appear, remove or spray before they flower and seed.
- Top up the mulch periodically as it decomposes over time.
- Consider a groundcover or living mulch,
Any mulch is better than no mulch, however your local nursery will be able to provide expert advice on mulching your garden or visit your local library and read one of the many books on the subject. Waterwise Gardening by Kevin Walsh, an Australian Horticulturist, is full of valuable information on waterwise design, mulch, watering systems and drought tolerant trees, shrubs, ground covers, perennials and bulbs.
Healthy soil holds more nutrients and water and results in healthier plants. Improving your soil is the best way to save water and work in your lawn and garden. Compost is decomposed organic matter that increases the organic content of the soil. It holds more water and provides the perfect environment good bacteria and worms need to breakdown and keep the soil alive and full of nutrients.
Adding compost to your garden also:
- Opens up the soil structure allows water to infiltrate and to drain.
- Adds valuable nutrients meaning worms and other living organisms help keep your soil healthy.
- Improves soil quality, plant growth and resilience to drought.
QUICK TIPS FOR IMPROVING YOUR SOIL
- Know your soil; look for compaction or other soil problems you can fix.
- Add compost; digging 2-3 inches of compost into the soil when planting new garden beds or lawns.
- Top up compost every 2-3 years; spreading another 1 inch on garden beds or ½ inch on lawns.
- Fertilize responsibly.
Compost can be easily made at home or check with your local nursery or landscape supplier for recycled green waste, mulches and compost.
Composting at home is an easy and a great way to recycle yard waste and kitchen scraps into fertile sweet-smelling soil. Compost helps grow healthy gardens, lawns, trees, and shrubs that need less water, pesticides and fertilizer, reduces water use and household waste.