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Mulch is the Answer

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

Mulch has a variety of uses, from protecting your lawn when it's coming up from seed to fertilizing your mature lawn. Choose the right mulch type for the job, and you'll see that for your lawn and garden, a little mulch can go a long way.
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The Many Faces of Mulch

Mulch is a catchall phrase for any type of protective organic covering, and mulch types vary from peat to straw to the wood-based garden mulch mixes to your own grass clippings. Whatever the variety of garden mulch, it can do a lot for your yard. Here are just a few of the times the answer is as simple as mulch.

Tip #1. Fertilize Away.

Good mulch is one of the easiest ways to fertilize your lawn, and one of the easiest ways to come up with good mulch is to use your own grass clippings. As the clippings break down they'll provide nitrogen to your lawn, helping it to be the lush green grass you're aiming for.

The clippings have to be chopped into small enough pieces to break down quickly - otherwise your lawn will be overwhelmed. A mulching mower will do the trick.

Tip #2. Protect Your Trees.

Creating a mulched area around the base of all the trees in your yard will do three things for you. First, the right mulch type (say wood chips or a wood-based garden mulch mix) will stop your lawn from growing beneath it, eliminating any competition between the lawn's roots and the trees' roots, helping the trees flourish. Second, it will protect the trees' roots from lawn mower nicks. Third, it will save you a load of mowing hassle.

Tip #3. Seeding? Use Mulch.

Whether you're putting in a new lawn or just patching, putting a little mulch on top of the grass seeds will help hold in moisture and speed up germination. Finely shredded compost or straw are both good options. If you choose straw, just be sure it's from a source that's free of weeds.

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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