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Deep Mulch the Garden with Hay | Essential Homestead

Have you seen the new trend?  How to deep mulch the garden with hay? Or maybe, it’s just new to me.

Yes, I thought it was silly at first too.  My husband thought I was crazy to even try to deep mulch especially with hay.  He kept telling me the hay would seed and make the weeds grow like crazy but you know what?  It didn’t!
deep mulch
A few years ago, we gave up the traditional tilling method and started container gardening.  First, I put a layer of weed control fabric.  You know, the stuff that only works for a short time.  The weeds start growing on top of it.  Then, we added a layer of crushed gravel around our raised beds hoping to control the weeds.  This worked for a few months but the weeds quickly got out of control everywhere except where I deep mulched around the tomatoes.
This year, I decided to deep mulch the whole garden even the path around the beds.  Sceptics kept telling me I would make the weeds worse, but you know what?  It works like a charm!
I love spending time in my garden now!  Here’s the steps we took this year to keep weeds at bay and it’s been the easiest gardening year we’ve ever had.

  1. Prepare the beds in spring by pulling any weeds that have grown since the last season (this is minimal).
  2. Add new soil.
  3. Weed eat any grass or weeds that have grown around the bed or fence.
  4. Add a layer of deep mulch all over the area, about 8 – 10 inches. Hay, straw, or leaves can be used.  I choose hay because I have it in my barn for cattle.
  5. To plant, spread the mulch apart, leaving a strip of dirt.
  6. Plant seeds as normal.
  7. As the seedlings pop up,  pull the mulch around them to block weeds and conserve water.

The mulch keeps the soil more moist so less watering is needed.  I have to add more deep mulch 2 or 3 times in the growing season but that’s so much easier than constantly weeding the garden.  We’ve even had some pretty good storms and the hay has stayed in place.
At the end of the season, I cover the beds with chicken poo and leave it to fertilize during the dormant months.
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Tegan Richardson

Monday 18th of March 2019

There is a fairly large sand pit use have a playset on the sand. Now it’s clean up like use it place garden beds on the sand however I would not be surprised one day snakes using to keep cool. My most concerning question is what could I cover the whole sand area I priced trucks rocks,soil, or etc but it’s over my budget. I would like lay hay down then soil on top of it would be a wise choice? I plan on build trellis to put on ground for some of my plants. Thank you

Friday 5th of April 2019

I wouldn't place the hay under. Maybe check with your local tree cutting service for some free tree mulch. A layer of about 12 inches would keep weeds at bay and will break down into nice soil.

Paula Carli

Saturday 15th of July 2017

I have used straw for years on our farm for vegetables and flowers and love it. It does work so well and as you said, a joy to be in the garden. When the straw would start to break down more, or if weeds did start to grow between the rows, I would just add more straw. Great sharing this gardening tip. This year, I am experimenting using animal bedding shavings instead of straw because I was having a problem getting actual straw (not hay) which has seeds in it. The price is about the same but the straw goes further. I am really liking the bedding mix which also will break down into soil and augment it in the winter. The only problem for me, is my chickens love the straw and bedding shavings when I let them into my gardens; and the dogs love it too, to lie down on the straw and sometimes on the plants!!!

Friday 21st of July 2017

I'm always happy to hear from a fellow gardener. Yes, hay has seeds in it but I haven't had any problems. I have an abundance of hay so I've used it freely in my garden for 2 years. Works great. :) Happy Gardening!

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