, Newburyport, MA

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November 6, 2013

Tim's Tips: Mulching can save your plants


Some people want to use the leaves that they have to mulch the plants. The problem with leaves is that once they get wet, they pack down and you lose the insulating nature.

My recommendation would be to use bark mulch. The bark mulch can be placed around the base of the plant to cover the soil. A 3-inch layer will do the trick.

Alternatively, you can use straw to do the same thing. If you use straw, make sure that it is straw and not hay. Much of the hay will contain weed seed that can cause weeds to grow in your gardens next spring.

There are several companies that are packaging chopped hay that is heat-treated to kill any weed seed. The hay is finely chopped, so come the spring, you can spread it out and apply your bark mulch over it. The hay will disintegrate into the soil.

Mulching in the fall is critical in allowing your plants to survive the winter. Your plants will also benefit from water being applied to the soil.

Most plants will take up water in the fall so that the plant can lose water to the winter wind. Mother Nature has not cooperated this fall in providing the water the plants need. It’s up to you to keep up with the watering until the ground freezes.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.


Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.

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