Mulch adds a finished quality to the garden, but a layer of mulch also conserves soil moisture, moderates soil temperature and inhibits weeds, says Missy Gable, director of the UC Master Gardener Program, in the latest episode of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources’ six-part home landscape water conservation video series.

Gable recommends soil in home landscapes be covered with 2 to 4 inches of a fine- to medium-shred bark mulch. The mulch should not be applied too close to the bases of the plants so they won’t be susceptible to rot.

UC Master Gardeners in Sonoma County have provided detailed information about various types of mulch, their benefits and drawbacks. For example, straw is a common, effective and inexpensive mulch. Alfalfa hay or pellets are more expensive, but give plants a nutrient boost because they are rich in nitrogen. Barks and hulls also make an attractive, natural-looking surface. Another cost-effective mulch is yard waste, such as fallen leaves, grass clippings and chopped plant clippings.

Click here to read the full article and to view the video.