Gardening Answers

Life Under a Heat Dome: Part 2

Dan_Southwest | Posted in Southwest Gardening on

Irrigation is literally “life support” for most gardens in the Southwest, but balancing those needs with water conservation is also an essential consideration. Most of us know that watering deeper but less often will encourage deeper roots, making plants more resilient during extreme events. Proper mulching around plants can also insulate against extreme heat events and help to retain moisture. But is there such a thing as too much mulch? And what kind of mulch is best? As Monsoon Season draws near, here are some considerations to think about:
Organic mulches (fine bark and compost products) can be great. They heat up less in full sun and help to slowly improve soils, but more than an inch or so of mulch will intercept all but the heaviest rains, absorbing the water long before the roots in the soil ever benefit.
Thin layers of inorganic mulch (squeegee, pea gravel) may be better in shady areas where they aren’t heated by the sun, and rain can pass through to the roots without being absorbed as it would be by organic materials.
All materials have pros and cons. What materials and methods have worked for you in various settings?

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