Why do people put bark chips around their plants/shrubs - is there a best time of year to do that?
I live near Portland, OR. People often put bark chips around their plants and shrubs here. It does look good I must admit. Is there a practical purpose to this? Is there a best time of year to do this or can you do this at any point? I've kinda been getting obsessed about landscaping at my place, enjoying it, learning, etc. Thanks!
The bark chips are used as mulch, to keep weeds from growing. It also helps to keep moisture in the ground, so the plants require less watering.
You can mulch at any time, but people do it in the fall because that's a good time to tidy up your garden, and get it ready for winter. Fall is the best time to trim trees, and cut back shrubs.
A thick layer of mulch makes it difficult for weeds to grow and also helps trap moisture where the plant needs it. It also looks pretty.
I see people most often putting mulch down in the spring. Some types of mulch fade in color so this keeps it bright and fresh for the growing season. But I also live in an area where the ground is covered by snow for six months out of the year.
It's tempting to use landscape fabric under your mulch but I recommend using layers of cardboard or newspaper. Landscaping fabric needs to be replaced every 2-3 years or it causes the dirt underneath to become completely compacted which makes it difficult for plants to grow well.
I recently read an article that suggests cleaning your garden in the fall may not be the best option and you should clean in the spring instead.
Lots of wildlife use scrubbly plants and fallen leaves as shelter over the winter months. The fallen leaves also break down over the winter and help fertilize your lawn. So as long as the leaves are not piled too thick you should leave them. Thick piles can cause dead spots, so clean them out of areas where they accumulate from the wind.
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