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Mulch & Why It Matters

The Rossmoor Community Services District, or RCSD as they are more commonly called, provides Rossmoor with free mulch on the 2nd and 4th Saturday each month.
The free mulch is available by stopping by Kempton Park at the corner of Kempton and Silver Fox here in Rossmoor. Anyone wanting to save water and reduce weeds in their yards by incorporating mulch into their yard projects, this is the place to be. Just bring your own gloves, containers, and shovel/rake or tools.
A tip from Rossmoor’s arborist, Mary Kingman:
While you can use any containers, disposable trash bags are cumbersome and harder to use. A better choice: a manageable-sized container with an open top and hard sides (like a cardboard wine-carton type box or Rubbermaid tote) is easier to use.
Of course, flatbed and pickup trucks work too, but not everybody has one of those!
For those who are unfamiliar with mulch and how to use it to protect your plants, save water, and generally make your yard look better, here is a helpful article.

Why Mulching Matters

Mulch is essential to soil health because it acts as a barrier against water loss and heat, reduces weeds, improves soil structure/quality, helps to prevent runoff pollution, and can provide a habitat for animals.
Once you’ve found the right method for your garden, mulching is an easy way to boost your soil’s health. Plus, it’s fairly inexpensive if you use leaves/clippings from your home and compost. Consider the resources below to help you get started and fine-tune your personal mulching program.  Happy mulching!
    • The Orange County Public Works Stormwater Team has this excellent article on How To Choose The Best Mulch for your yard.
    • And this UC Cooperative Extension brochure discusses the impact of mulches on landscape plants.
    • And the following is an excerpt from The Healthy Vegetable Garden by Sally Morgan. It has been adapted for Southern California.


Mulch is a layer of organic matter, compost, or similar material, which is spread over the surface of the soil to act as a barrier against water loss and heat, reduce weeds, improve soil structure, and more. Mulching really is essential to soil health. Most gardeners are diligent about mulching their newly planted trees and shrubs to give them a good start, but perennial beds and vegetable plots tend to get overlooked. Mulches can be applied all year, ideally after a rain so that they can trap the moisture in the soil. A good time to mulch is autumn when crops have been harvested and you don’t want to leave the soil exposed over winter. A thick layer isn’t required, just an inch or two will do, but don’t mulch right up to tree trunks and stems of plants as this can lead to rot.

Leafmulch 300X250 1 | OurrossmoorA mulch can also make it difficult for pests. Research has shown that covering bare soil with mulch makes it difficult for flying insects, such as aphids, flea beetles, and leaf hoppers, to distinguish the crop from the mulch, so it can reduce pest damage in spring while at the same time encouraging natural predators. There are lots of materials that you can use as mulch:

      • Compost A thin layer of your own garden compost is ideal, but don’t add more than an inch in depth.
      • Grass clippings These need to be spread thinly, otherwise they rot down and create a foul-smelling, rotting grassy mat. Usually, I spread fresh clippings out to dry first and then apply them to my beds.
      • Leaf litter  Leaf litter is invaluable for boosting soil health. Not only is there plenty of it, but it’s also free and easy to compost. I collect fallen leaves from paths and driveways and pop them in my compost pile. It takes about a year to compost down and the results can be used as mulch or as an ingredient in your own peat-free potting compost.
      • Straw and hay A thick layer of straw or hay is great for trapping moisture and supplying nutrients, but it can encourage slugs, snails, and spider mites.
      • Mineralized wheat straw and maize biodigester These are commercial products that you can buy to mulch your flower and vegetable beds. These materials reduce weed growth and enrich the soil, and last for several years. They may even deter slugs and snails and, when used regularly for a number of years, gardeners have reported improved plant health and soil structure.

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