Why Fall Mulching Is Critical For Your Plants

15 Oct 20

It is common practice to mulch in the spring months. As the warmer weather returns, flowerbeds and trees come back to life. It is during this time that our instincts kick-in and we lay down fresh new mulch. Doing so not only makes our lawns look a lot more attractive, but provides several key benefits to the health and wellbeing of our plants. 

Mulch helps: 

  • Retain moisture in the soil 
  • Suppresses weeds 
  • Keeps the soil climate from overheating 
  • Improves soil structure 
  • Introduces fresh organic matter to the growing environment 

While spreading fresh mulch is a great way to propel your flowerbeds towards success in the new season — mulching during the fall is equally important, and often overlooked. As the winter months approach, dead debris from plants falls to the ground and collect in the soil if untouched. This provides no value to the soil or the plant as it enters a dormant state. Additionally, the cold weather poses a threat to plants as they wait until warmer temperatures return. 

Choosing to add mulch to your flowerbeds and around your trees helps better insulate and regulate soil temperature through the winter. Having a warmer soil temperature also helps encourage insect and microbe activity for a longer period in the cooling months. Mulching remains a rather inexpensive way to best protect your plants through the coming winter season. 

Tips for Fall Mulching 

If you decide to add mulch to your landscape, taking a few extra steps to prepare the soil can help improve the mulch’s effectiveness. 

  • Remove any dead debris from the area 
  • Pull any existing weeds
  • Rototill soil before laying mulch 

The depth of mulch needed to insulate your flowerbeds and trees is dependent on your region’s winter climate. Here in Missouri, winter temperatures regularly drop well below freezing — and we receive considerable snowfall each season. The colder your region, the deeper the mulch layer should be. When the snow and ice melt, the mulch helps fight soil erosion and hold plant roots in place. 

Important note, when adding mulch around trees, do not pile mulch high up around the base of the tree. This can keep the tree from drying out and runs the risk of developing rot and disease.