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I've just moved here from Maryland and I'm starting to landscape our yard. I've noticed that none of my neighbors use mulch in their flower beds. Why is that? I thought mulch helped to keep the soil moist as well as keep out the weeds. Plus you can till it back into the soil in the fall for aeration.
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We do recommend mulch for the reasons you listed below. As far as tilling into the soil in the fall, realize that microbe activity is reduced in the winter because of the low temperatures, and some of the mulch material may not be decomposed (depending on the size of the mulch) by the next spring when you are replanting. My recommendation is if the mulch material is small less than 1/2 inch of bark nuggets, you probably are ok in tilling it in, but larger material will take time to decompose and may immobilize some of the nitrogen used by the microbes, thereby making nitrogen less available for plant growth. A possibility to avoid this is adding additional fertilizer, such as ammonium sulfate (21-0-0) in the spring.
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