Gardening identity, Peter Cundall, when asked by the Weekend Australian what is the most frustrating mistake gardeners make, replied that inexperienced gardeners work too hard. He said gardeners “go around on their hands and knees pulling out weeds when it’s much easier to just dump a bale of mulching material on the weeds and smother them.” Peter finished by saying that “good gardeners know when to work hard and when to rest”.

Mulching is not only a time saver keeping weeds down but it is also of great benefit to the garden; it helps plants by improving the soil texture and keeping it at a more even temperature; it protects surface roots and reduces evaporation and thereby the amount of watering required.

A mulched garden looks attractive and cared for. Mulches are many and varied. Sugar cane mulch is very popular and easy to use, especially around small seedlings. Pine bark mulch is attractive and will retain its natural colour; lopper’s mulch is good value, it will break down quicker than a woodchip but this in turn will be improving your soil.

Tea tree mulch is locally produced and in texture sits between the lighter sugar cane and a lopper’s mulch. It has good moisture retention. Hay is easy but because of its coarseness be sure to put it on thickly. Lucerne is an excellent soil conditioner.

Any mulch is better than no mulch; use enough to keep the light away from the weeds but not so much that the water doesn’t reach the soil. All mulch provides a hiding place for termites so avoid putting it up close to buildings.