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    • Bossypants
    • By Bossypants 3rd Jun 19, 9:17 PM
    • 979Posts
    • 1,927Thanks
    Is it too late to mulch?
    • #1
    • 3rd Jun 19, 9:17 PM
    Is it too late to mulch? 3rd Jun 19 at 9:17 PM
    Full disclosure, I know nothing about gardening, this is the first once I've had.

    Long story short, I've just moved into a new house which has some beautiful mature shrubs in the garden (mainly roses, rhododendrons and various conifers). These were obviously once impressive specimens, but the rhodos and roses especially are starting to look rather sad and droopy. The soil around them has been covered with weeds, and now that said weeds have been pulled, it looks washed out and neglected. When I moved in two months ago, there happened to be a gardener working next door and he said the best thing I could do was to get some good horse manure compost and mulch around the plants. With moving, I've only really now got round to thinking about the garden, and reading up on it the sites all say you shouldn't mulch in the summer because it's too dry. It's due to rain next week (I'm in West Sussex). If I wait until just after the rain and then put the mulch down, would that be sufficient?

    I'm anthropomorphising my new plants a bit, but it depresses me to think of them going all summer in that state.
Page 1
    • in my wellies
    • By in my wellies 3rd Jun 19, 9:26 PM
    • 868 Posts
    • 748 Thanks
    in my wellies
    • #2
    • 3rd Jun 19, 9:26 PM
    • #2
    • 3rd Jun 19, 9:26 PM
    Yes, I would wait until after the rain. If the ground underneath the shrubs doesn't get thoroughly wet I would use the water from the washing up, etc, to water them. Break the soil up a little then the worms and other bugs will work their magic and take the mulch down into the soil.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 4th Jun 19, 5:05 AM
    • 29,496 Posts
    • 102,316 Thanks
    • #3
    • 4th Jun 19, 5:05 AM
    • #3
    • 4th Jun 19, 5:05 AM
    Mulch is probably most use when the first of it has been dug or gradually pulled into the soil by worms and other creatures, but the latter takes a long time. Then, the soil becomes more able to retain any moisture.

    Putting a mulch over at present will just absorb any rain we have, unless there are numerous deluges over several weeks, so I wouldn't do it now.

    Spot watering, as suggested, will help individual plants get through droughts, but do it thoroughly to the few you want to favour!
    Opportunities may be missed, especially when they arrive disguised as hard work.

    • forgotmyname
    • By forgotmyname 7th Jun 19, 6:22 PM
    • 29,464 Posts
    • 12,111 Thanks
    • #4
    • 7th Jun 19, 6:22 PM
    • #4
    • 7th Jun 19, 6:22 PM
    When most people water they put far too little down.

    After watering dig down an inch or two and its probably bone dry again.
    Punctuation, Spelling and Grammar will be used sparingly. Due to rising costs of inflation.

    My contribution to MSE. Other contributions will only be used if they cost me nothing.

    Due to me being a tight git.
    • Camomile
    • By Camomile 13th Jun 19, 9:56 PM
    • 73 Posts
    • 204 Thanks
    • #5
    • 13th Jun 19, 9:56 PM
    • #5
    • 13th Jun 19, 9:56 PM
    Horse manure is not as powerful as cow or chicken one, so if you could get hold of some apply even now.
    • Diana2014
    • By Diana2014 26th Jun 19, 11:28 AM
    • 25 Posts
    • 20 Thanks
    • #6
    • 26th Jun 19, 11:28 AM
    • #6
    • 26th Jun 19, 11:28 AM
    Only ever mulch onto well wetted ground, but at any time of year. We had torrential rain last week, so I dumped the entire contents of a mature compost heap onto the south-facing border to hold the water in the soil. The only difficulty with summer mulching is if smaller, softer plants have grown too lush for one to fit the mulch in between them!

    Keep manure etc away from the stems of even hardy plants; it's really not good for the bark. But roses will love a manure mulch - as long as it's well composted, not raw and stinky - whenever they can get it.

    Your rhododendrons can't tolerate alkaline conditions, so will need an acidic mulch - especially if your soil isn't naturally acidic. One of the easiest mulches to keep using is the needles from old Christmas trees, if you (or a neighbour) buys a cut one and dumps it after the holidays. It's a messy form of recycling in the short term but provides excellent organic matter. Chimney soot, which a sweep will happily leave after cleaning chimneys, is also acidic.
    Well-composted tree shreddings (ask to fill your own sacks from any tree surgeon using a shredder in the street, or keep the shreddings if you have to engage a tree surgeon yourself) might also improve acidity. But don't use them until they've had at least six months to compost down; keep them in sacks or a compost bin or compost them in a separate heap.
    If all else fails, there's always ericaceous compost, but do make sure that it's certified to be peat-free - using peat is a really bad idea, environmentally speaking.

    Enjoy your new life as a gardener, do.
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