What Should I Put Down Before Mulching?

DIY / Putting Down Rubberized Mulch / Quick and Easy... YouTube
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When it comes to creating a beautiful and healthy garden, mulching is an essential part of the process. Mulch not only adds an aesthetic appeal to your garden but also helps retain moisture, suppresses weeds, and regulates soil temperature. However, before adding mulch, it is important to prepare the soil properly to ensure optimal growth and health of your plants. In this article, we will explore what you should put down before mulching.

1. Weed barrier fabric

One of the first things you should put down before mulching is a weed barrier fabric. This fabric acts as a barrier between the soil and the mulch, preventing weeds from growing and competing with your plants for nutrients and water. The fabric is usually made of woven or non-woven materials that allow water and air to pass through while blocking the growth of weeds.

Installing a weed barrier fabric is a simple process. First, remove any existing weeds from the area. Then, roll out the fabric over the soil, cutting it to fit the desired area. Secure the fabric with landscape pins or staples to keep it in place. Finally, add the mulch on top of the fabric.

2. Compost or organic matter

Adding compost or organic matter to the soil before mulching is another important step. Compost is rich in nutrients and beneficial microorganisms that improve soil structure and fertility. It also helps retain moisture and promotes healthy root growth.

To incorporate compost into your soil, spread a layer of compost or organic matter evenly over the soil surface. Use a garden fork or shovel to gently work the compost into the top few inches of soil. This will ensure that the nutrients are distributed evenly and accessible to the plant roots.

3. Fertilizer

In addition to compost, applying a slow-release or organic fertilizer before mulching can provide an extra boost of nutrients for your plants. Fertilizers help replenish any nutrient deficiencies in the soil and promote healthy growth.

Before applying fertilizer, it is important to conduct a soil test to determine the specific nutrient needs of your garden. This will help you choose the right type and amount of fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for proper application rates and techniques.

4. Soil amendments

Depending on the condition of your soil, you may need to incorporate soil amendments before mulching. Soil amendments, such as lime or sulfur, can help balance the pH level of the soil. pH levels that are too high or too low can affect nutrient availability to plants.

Before adding soil amendments, it is recommended to test the pH level of your soil using a soil testing kit or by sending a sample to a laboratory. This will help you determine the appropriate amendments needed to achieve the optimal pH level for your plants.

5. Mulch layer

Once you have prepared the soil by adding a weed barrier fabric, compost, fertilizer, and soil amendments if necessary, it is time to add the mulch layer. Mulch helps conserve moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth.

When choosing mulch, consider the type of plants you are growing and the aesthetic you want to achieve. Common types of mulch include wood chips, straw, shredded bark, and compost. Spread a layer of mulch evenly over the soil, making sure to leave a small gap around the base of plants to prevent moisture buildup and potential rot.


Properly preparing the soil before mulching is crucial for the health and growth of your plants. Adding a weed barrier fabric, compost or organic matter, fertilizer, and soil amendments if needed will create an optimal environment for your plants to thrive. Remember to choose the right type of mulch for your garden and apply it evenly over the soil. With these steps, you can enjoy a beautiful and healthy garden all year round.

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