Gardening Texoma: Mulching Your Garden & Summer Shade

Mulching Your Garden

The purpose of mulch is to keep the soil cooler, conserve moisture, and to create an environment where the interface between the mulch and the bed soil surface is full of abundant microbial life. This creates a multi-level of benefits and more life. In the winter, mulch keeps the ground warmer but doesn’t apply to our show today. My favorite type of mulch is native cedar, which we have an abundance of here. My top seven mulches are:

1. Native cedar

A. for natural oils and insect repelling abilities
B. high quality of hardwood durability
C. high quality humus that it creates when it decomposes

2. Native hardwood mulch

a. Readily available in abundance
b. Fibrous ability allows it to lock up and not wash off with heavy rain by creating a natural mat
c. It looks good,
d. It makes a really good runner-up to number one\

3. Native hardwood/cedar/softwood shredded tree trimmings

a. Provided by utility tree trimming companies
b. Relatively inexpensive
c. Plentiful
d. Has the same benefits of the top 2 mulches

4. Cypress mulch

a. It is attractive,
b. it has a distinctive color
c. many people like it.

5. Shredded pine bark mulch

a. very inexpensive
b. relatively easy material to apply or blow into the beds

6. Decomposed Granite

a. rich abundant trace minerals
b. Fairly easy maintenance

7. Pine Needle/Straw/Grass clippings

a. All are useful and inexpensive forms of moisture retention, but deteriorate more readily

Note: A simple rule to follow, apply 4-6 inches of mulch to your flower bed. Be sure not to cover important foliage. Be sure to reapply mulch on a yearly basis as needed. It is a good idea to fertilize before fresh mulch is applied in order to enrich and stimulate soil. The plant is not as important as the soil that gives life.

Summer Shade

With our intense heat, it is important to get out of the sun and into the shade where the temperature tends to be 5-10 degrees cooler. Lord willing, not only is it cooler, a breeze can actually cool you even more. Of course our number one shade givers are trees. Number two would be umbrellas, porches, hats, etc. The most important that I want to talk about today are gazeboes, pavilions, pergolas, and arbors. So what’s the difference between all of these? It’s very simple. A gazebo has side railings and a pavilion is a free standing roof with support beams or poles. The pavilion will have no wall structures at all. A pergola is a structure similar to an arbor. They are both free standing structures that provide shade and that climbing vine plants can grow upon. An arbor though has a round top, or a pitched form. Where as a pergola has a flat top surface that can be either closed or open air. The secret to creating these outdoor living spaces is to use long lasting materials that have high weather durability. For example cedar, treated wood, aluminum, steel/tin, are all durable materials. Features as electrical lights and fans can be added to these structures so as to encompass more year round usage. Some of these applications can be screened in, where as others are best suited to be open aired. Today's example will be a pergola over an outdoor kitchen, a back porch, a gazebo on the south side of the pool by the house, and large native trees. Happy gardening.


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