Here in San Diego, summer always seems to arrive in August and September. The hottest day of the year at my house was 2 days ago, September 7th, when the tempature hit 98 degrees. When it is this hot, mulch is critical for helping plants survive.
Mulch is any type of material that serves as a top layer above bare soil. Mulch can be made up of a wide range of materials such as wood chips, rock, rubber, even shredded paper. My favorite is shredded wood chips. Unlike the chunky style of wood chips, shredded mulch tends to lock itself into place and not float away in heavy rain.
Mulch serves not only as an insulation blanket for the soil, but it also helps to keep the soil moist by preventing moisture evaporation. Finally mulch prevents weeds by acting as a barrier between bare soil and all the weed seeds that float in from your neighbor’s weed farm.
How much mulch do you need for your garden? The minimum for a healthy garden is 2 inches (or the depth of your thumb). One cubic yard of mulch will cover 150 square feet to a depth of 2 inches. In order to figure out what you need, calculate the total square feet of the project and divide by 150. For example, if your yard is 30 feet long by 20 feet wide, your square footage is 600 and you will need 4 cubic yards of mulch to cover it.
One cubic yard of mulch will fit in a standard pickup truck or you can have it delivered. Miramar Nursery sells mulch in both bulk quantity and by the bag. One cubic yard of recycled shredded mulch costs $25. The recycled mulch does have little bits of plastic in it, but it costs half the price of the regular mulch. You can also buy mulch by the bag for small jobs. A 3-cubic foot bag sells for $8.00 and can cover 15 square feet.
So keep those plants nice and cool in the summer by adding some mulch. Your garden will love it!