My Sister ROCKS | This Secret will Save Money and Time in Your Garden

My sister came to stay for a couple weeks during the summer and absolutely garden sisterssaved me hundreds and hundreds of hours of weeding.  She taught me the neatest trick in gardening I have learned in all the years I have been gardening…..

CARDBOARD—-cardboard is my savior! (–along with Dee)…. She spent a couple weeks helping me and ALL summer long I had minimal weeds and accomplished so much more, not to mention the hours of enjoyment. It was nice to take a book out to the deck and enjoy the fresh air without looking at or fretting over weeds. It’s been a never ending job, my weeds…and as I am getting older I seriously thought I would have to reduce the size of my gardens. I just couldn’t seem to keep up anymore. SO she really really did save me and my gardens too! So what is the secret? Here is what we did:

  • We cut any tall weeds to the ground. (don’t get real crazy or work to hard at this)
  • We opened boxes and flattened them, removed any tape, labels or staples. (Tape and staples do not biodegrade so they make a mess later on) **
  • We laid boxes between and around plants, cutting to fit. (make sure to overlap 4” to 6” and cover any holes, gaps or seams by the same amount) AND do not put the boxes to tight to your flowers or you may kill them too. I gave them a couple inches all the way around and filled this with thicker mulch.
  • Spread mulch on top of boxes.

This serves several purposes:

  • The weeds won’t grow back thru the cardboard for weeks, if not months and most of them die before then. Making it easier to maintain your gardens and they look fantastic. This is especially important if you are like me and have LOTS of gardens and large gardens.
  • This helps to retain moisture.
  • You will use WAY less purchased mulch to do your beds so it’s cost effective and well, basically free mulch filler.
  • The cardboard biodegrades feeding your plants well and giving you more time to relax and enjoy your flowers.
  • Your time savings is incredible, not to mention maintenance free….or little  ongoing maintenance.
  • Spare your back!

I also started this in my vegetable garden last fall. I have always wanted to do a no-till garden but didn’t think this was going to be possible to do for some time in the future. In my vegetable garden, I topped the cardboard with leaves and such from the fall. Read more about a no-till garden here.

**NOTE: You may also use newspaper if you layer it quite thick, using 12 to 15 or more pages or shredded newspaper and layer it thick. I don’t care for the newspaper, myself. It’s more work and messier and also tends to pop thru the mulch in several places. I DO however like to use the shredded newspaper in the vegetable garden on top of the boxes…I AM all about recycling!

How do I get old mulch to break down faster?

Last year I had 5 yards of black dyed mulch put down. The mulch was not good and had a lot of mold and fungus throughout the year. I’ve managed to dig up the mulch that was still down and put it in a large pile near my shed. Is there any faster way to break down this old mulch that just keep watering it?

Try covering it with black plastic so that the sun heats up the pile. Between the moisture and the heat it should break down faster.

How does mulch acutally work on the garden?

I’ve recently added some mulch around two trees and several shrubs in my front and back yard. but, im still curious as to what "is" the major function of it beside beautifying the areas. does it keep the moister longer or is it just for decoration?

Mulch does help the soil retain the water as well as evening out the temperature, keeping the roots cooler when it is hot and warmer when it is cold. It also suppresses weeds, so that is my favorite thing about it. Then it eventually breaks down and improves the soil.

Be careful with mulch around trees that it doesn’t touch the bark of the tree and also that it is no more than 3 or so inches deep, or you can end up suffocating the trees roots that are near the surface.

Trash Picked 5.5 HP Craftsman Mulching Lawnmower

I found this during the city flood cleanup. The pull cord was snapped, the gasoline was waterlogged, and the oil was chocolate milk brown. After an oil change, fuel system flush, and a recoil repair it runs great!

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Mulch, How many bags of mulch that you buy at the store are in a yard?

We used 25 to 30 bags of mulch in my mother’s yard this year. My husband buys it by the yard (loose) and brings it to our house in the back of a truck. I am trying to compare the price to see which is more economical. I just need to know how many bags are in a yard.

The cubic feet volume should be printed on the bag somewhere.

There are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard, so if the bag is 3 cubic feet you need 9 bags to make a yard. If the bags are 1.5 cubic feet, you need 18 of them.

It is almost always more economical to buy by the truckload.


Pine Bark Mulch

Mulching is an essential part of good garden practices. And if you’ve ever done any landscaping around your home, you know that a generous layer of mulch around your plants can give your garden a nice finished look. But it’s about a lot more than just looks.
Mulch is very functional. It can keep moisture in and weeds out. And with the fall and winter ahead, it can offer your plants some measure of protection. I’ve actually brought things through that weren’t regarded as cold hardy by putting an extra layer of mulch on them.
Now there is a whole range of mulches to choose from – various kinds of straws, wood chips, even newspapers. But what I like to use in my flowerbeds is a ground up pine bark. I like it because it looks natural in my garden. And while eventually it will decompose and work itself into the soil, because it’s a bark, it’s very durable. Let me explain what I mean by this.
You see, the outer covering or bark of a tree acts as a protective layer. It’s actually waterproof and it’s made waterproof by waxes and suberant, which don’t exist in the core of the tree. So it just makes sense that bark products will be longer lasting in your flowerbed.
The longevity of bark as a mulch has actually been studied and found that it only decomposed by about thirty percent having been on the ground for up to two years. Of course the larger the chip, the longer it lasts. If you’re looking for something very long lasting, you might give bark a try.
From the garden, I’m Allen Smith.
Copyright: 1997
P. Allen Smith Gardens
Hortus LTD.

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If I have enough mulch around my plants, but the mulch is silver what can I do to add come color to the area?

Should I buy a few bags of new mulch and spread around? I have about 1.5 yards that has silver-ish color mulch and I want to add color so it looks better. I have about 3 inches of mulch still left over from last year that turned silver.

Yes, just put new mulch over the old mulch.

Fresh mulch from chipping up tree just cut – is it safe to use immediately in flower bed?

Having one dead tree and one dying tree cut next week. They will run limbs through chipper as they clean up. Also putting new shrubbery in and need a lot of mulch. Thinking about using the stuff from chipper but seem to remember hearing that is not a good idea. Maybe gets to hot. Anyone have experience or know whether or not this would be ok around new shrubs?

here’s the deal…. fresh chips will start to decompose…. to do so, they’ll need nitrogen…. they’ll pull it from wherever they can get it…. if it’s from the soil surface, the air, whatever…. if placed around new plantings, the plants will have to ‘share’ the nitrogen with the mulch… and may not have enuff…. so… IF you use the mulch, you must add a bit of nitrogen fertilizer too….. or the plants will suffer….

you do not want to let the fresh chips mix in with the soil at all…same problem… takes the nitrogen for it’self…

best is to let the chips sit in a pile for a year and do their little decomp thing FIRST, and THEN use as mulch…. then you don’t need to worry…. but if you’re in a hurry you CAN use them, just be aware of the nitrogen thing and take care of adding a little more now and then to help both plants and mulch…..