5. Mulch - The Protective Blanket for Your Plants
There are two categories of mulch: organic mulches are those that amend the soil with humus when braking down, and permanent mulches are those that are inert, such as rocks. Mulch protects a plant's root zone from water loss and weeds, and helps maintain even soil temperatures. Organic mulches are especially beneficial to plants that have a moderate to high water requirement. Mulches include:
- hay or straw
- pine needles
- rocks and gravel
Mulch is generally applied about three inches deep after the drip system has been installed (Figures 1-2 and 1-3). One cubic yard of mulch three inches deep covers approximately 100 square feet.
Hint: Before the mulch is laid down, use landscape fabric for weed control. This porous, woven material inhibits seed germination and allows water and air to pass through. Plastic is not recommended because it prevents air and water movement and deteriorates rapidly in northern Nevada's arid climate.