Mulching the garden is the best possible thing you can do for it. In water restriction times, it is even more crucial. Mulching is the act of placing a protective barrier of organic material around your plants and over your bare soil. Materials to use include bark, wood chips, leaf litter or straw. Right: Mulching new mid summer lettuce plantings in in my garden Advantages: Weed Control: It acts as a barrier, limiting weed germination. Moisture Retention: It reduces evaporation in our hot summer and your water bill. Insulation: It regulates soil temperature Prevents Soil Erosion: It breaks the fall of the water, lessening the force when it impacts the ground. Maintains Soil Nutrients: It prevents nutrients from being washed away as well as slowly releasing nutrients into the soil as it decomposes. Encourages Earthworms and Micro Organisms to Move In: It provides food for earthworms and other useful critters which in turn improve soil structure (breaking up clay!) and nutrient cycling. Polishes up your Garden: Mulch can give a garden a finished look by filling in the empty spaces while being one of the easiest fillers to maintain. Cutting edge horticultural evidence is emerging on Mycorrhizal networks (fascinating subject) which are networks of underground fungi which have a symbiotic relationship with plant roots, extending their ability to assimilate soil nutrients. Cultivating the soil disturbs this sensitive balance. Over time, mulching builds the soil, recreating a forest-floor-like top layer filled with nutrients and beneficial life.NB: When mulching, use 5cm layer and be sure to keep a 5cm space between the tree or shrub stem and the mulch material, as sustained moisture on the stem can cause it to rot. e or shrub stem and the mulch material, as sustained moisture on the stem can cause it to rot. All trees would also benefit from mulching their root zone.