Mulch your garden


Learn how to add a layer of material around garden plants to cut out light and reduce weeds, conserve moisture, improve soil and reduce work in the garden. 

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors
  • School term: Late Autumn, Early Spring
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Science

Learning objectives

  • Learn that through mulching the plant is obtaining and conserving water
  • Learn that plants (weeds) fail to grow if light is supressed


Gather tools and mulches together.

Discuss the importance of tool safety before starting the session.

Equipment needed

  • Mulching materials e.g. compost, well-rotted farmyard manure, soil conditioner, bark, shells, gravel or stones
  • Mulching mats or membrane material 
  • Pegs or wire
  • Buckets, trowels or spades, forks for weeding, gloves,
  • Watering cans if it has not rained recently

Step by step

  1. Start by clearing any weeds or grass away from the base of the plant, using hand forks, or garden forks. Try to dig up all of the roots of perennial weeds. For trees, clear a circular area 1m in diameter, taking care not to damage the plant roots
  2. Water the plants well if it has not recently rained and the soil seems dry.
  3. If using a mulching mat or membrane, lay the mat around the base of the plant. Peg down with wire or pegs.
  4. Using trowels or spades fill up a bucket with mulch.
  5. Apply a thick layer of mulch up to 10cm thick around the base of the bush or tree.
  6. Make sure the plant and its' stem is not buried under the pile of mulch.
  7. Remember mulches such as shells, gravel and stones look attractive and can be used on containers and pots too.

Hints & tips

  • Consider making garden compost and leaf mould to provide home-made mulching material.
  • Think about the sensory elements mulch can bring to the garden.
  • Use this activity as part of Focus on Fruit class growing topic.