Mulch can be spread around individual plants as far as the distance of the outermost branching (this is called the drip line); or mulch can cover an entire garden bed.
Weed the area to be mulched and apply up to 3 inches of mulch. Use less on shallow-rooted plants such as rhododendrons and azaleas. (Review chart for more information on how much mulch to use.)
Be sure water is still able to penetrate the mulch; don't smother the roots of the plants. Make sure the mulch doesn't touch the stems of plants or the bark of trees, or it may cause rotting.
Winter mulches: Insulate the soil by applying compost, shredded leaves, wood chips, or evergreen boughs in late fall (after the first frost) to keep freeze and thaw cycles from damaging plants.
Summer or growing mulches: Apply lighter, organic mulches in spring (after the final frost) to improve the soil, reduce weed growth, and retain soil moisture.
Any time: Mulch can be applied any time in perennial beds or around trees and shrubs, or on paths.
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