Mulching shrubs

June 30 – Kenosha News

Barb Larson, Horticulture Educator

hydrangeaQuestion: I read your June 2nd article about weed barriers in your vegetable garden. Can I do the same thing in an area that I have hydrangeas growing? Would I use the newspaper layer and the same options for on top of the newspaper? I love my hydrangeas but am constantly weeding around them all summer long, even though I hand pull I get new weeds all the time!

Also, I have some kind of vines that my neighbor grows on the other side of the fence which continuously come under the fence and take root on my side of the fence. Any ideas how to stop them from spreading to my side? Will the newspaper and mulch stop the vines? L.K.

Answer: Yes, you can use the same materials as mulch around your hydrangeas as in a vegetable garden. Layers of newspaper for the base are fine. Most people don’t like the look of clean straw or lawn clippings in a landscape bed. They prefer to use compost, shredded leaves, shredded bark or other more attractive organic mulches instead. But it is your choice. My personal favorite is shredded leaves which I collect every fall, put in the corner of the yard over winter, then add to my flower and shrub beds in spring. Hydrangeas and other shrubs can have a layer of mulch 2 to 4 inches deep. Finely texture mulches, such as compost, should be 2 inches in depth while coarse texture mulches, like wood chips, can be 3 to 4 inches deep. Regardless of the type of mulch, do not pile mulch against the crown of your hydrangeas or any other plants. Mulch should taper down to bare soil at the base of the plant. Keeping the soil covered with mulch will not only reduce weeds (and weeding), but will help keep the soil moist which hydrangeas love.

The only method that may stop the neighbor’s vines from coming under the fence is digging a trench and putting in a physical barrier, like metal edging, next to the fence. The barrier needs to extend from the soil surface to 6 to 12 inches deep into the soil. And even a barrier may not stop the vines from going deeper in the soil to come up in your yard. Alternatively, you could find out what the vine is and consider it as an ornamental covering for your fence.