Mulch 101 – How to Mulch and When to Mulch

Vegetable Garden Mulch

This is always an interesting question and difficult to write all the details as there are so many.  So we have produced  some videos to help you see exactly what to do and how to make it easy for you with the right techniques.

Also what tool will you need? Generally you will need a wide shovel, a wheel barrow, a garden fork and a plastic rubbish bin and even use the wheelie bin to transport the mulch if you have purchased in bulk (a number of cubc metres).

A good idea is to lay down a ‘mulch mat’ or sometimes called weed stop pours material to ensure that the weeds won’t come through the mulch particularly if you are not making it 10cm. thick. ALERT; DO NOT use black plastic under your mulch as it will sour your top soil, prevent moisture from reaching the soil and plant roots thus killing the plants. Also when you come to renovate or change your garden over the coming years this horrible plastic has to be ripped up. It is a real pain to do so and takes many hours of hard work when you are keen to get on with the garden renovation.

When building a new garden what do you do first once the top soil has been installed or shoveled into the garden that has no plants? Well it depends upon the size of the plants to be planted and the coarseness of the mulch, it would seem to me and my experience as a gardener. If using a fine type of mulch the it can be spread around the plants after they are planted. This is true when you mulch an existing garden no matter what the coarseness of the mulch . Clearly you have no choice than to spread the mulch around the existing plants, but more of that in the video.

How Much Mulch Will You Need?

A general rule to follow is one cubic metre of mulch will cover 10m2 to a depth of 1o cm which is the recommended depth, not so we can sell you more but to do the job it is intended to do and indeed to save you money as it will last longer and protect your expensive plants. So it is a good long term investment for many reasons. However, you will need less if the garden is heavily planted out thus reducing the surface area to cover with the mulch.

Let me tell you that the most difficult part about mulching your garden is picking it up to put on the garden and around the plants. Depending on the texture of the landscape mulch you have chosen it often falls off a shovel and it is even difficult to dig the shovel into the dam stuff as you get frustrated. Not to worry as there are a number of techniques.

Spreading Mulch after planting

  • A. If it is coarse then the use of a garden fork can make it much easier to dig into and pick up. You will pick up a fair volume each time to shake out over the garden. Use this method with Hoop Bark, Plantation Fines, Forest Ground Cover, Tea Tree Mulch
  • B. A good method is to scrape it with your hands into a plastic rubbish bin or large bucket and then shake the mulch out over the garden.
  • C. Just scoop it up in your hands and ‘sprinkle’ over the garden
  • D. Try the good old shovel as it will work well particularly with the pine barks and wood chips.
  • E.  You’ll figure it out!

When to Mulch…

Mulching your garden is a year long activity in Queensland so there is no hard a fast rule for when to mulch. However, spring makes us feel good about many things but particularly our garden and is the most popular for people to get out into their gardens and freshen it up. Often mulching is done as much for aesthetic reasons as well as all those good reasons given above saving moisture etc..

It is good practice when spreading mulch that you consider fertilizing first after you have loosened the top soil in the garden with a fork or similar garden implement. Also remember to give it a good water as well before distributing the landscape mulch over the garden.

Obviously from the information you have read above makes summer a vital time for you make sure that you have plenty of mulch on the garden. Remember the recommended depth is 10cm (or 4 inches for we oldies).

More Information About Mulch…

For more information on Mulch in the Garden go to the  ABC’s, Gardening Australia programmes…just click below.

  • Series 22 Episode 37 by Angus Stewart
  • Series 20 Episode 24 by Colin Campbell who have just passed away after a life dedicated to helping us all with our gardens by his presentation through many media including TV prolific writing on the topic.

Written and Photographed by
Terry O’Shea

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