What do I need to know about mulch?


I have premium brown mulch that I want to put on the soil below my tomatoes, any tips, ideas or anything I need to know before I do it?

Edit: Do I need to replace it after a period of time? Does it get diseases of fungi or stuff that can be harmful to my plants?

I added that it's brown mulch, does that work on tomato plants, and my vegetable bed.

  12 answers
  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Aug 10, 2020


    I assume this is wood mulch and not rubber mulch because rubber mulch should never touch the plant or leaves.



  • Dee Dee on Aug 10, 2020

    I line my beds with newspaper then put the mulch on top. The newspaper is biodegradable and keeps out weeds.

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on Aug 10, 2020

    Make sure your don't put mulch up to the base of the tree or plant.

    • See 1 previous
    • Oliva Oliva on Aug 12, 2020

      You generally leave at least 1" the entire perimeter of the tomato plant, without mulch. For trees , roses, shrubs, it can be a 2-3" width. Don't get carried away with the depth of your mulch. 2-4" should be more than sufficient. Stirring it up during the growing season aerates the mulch and reduces any tendency to develop fungus. Fungus can develop rapidly during very rainy seasons with poor drainage.

  • Lauren of Mom Home Guide Lauren of Mom Home Guide on Aug 11, 2020

    It is a good idea to put landscaping fabric or newspapers down before you put your mulch down. The fabric or newspaper will help prevent weeds. You will need to replace the mulch every few months or yearly. It tends to decompose or something - you will notice that it seems to disappear. In that way, mulch can be costly, since you have to frequently add more.

  • Lauren of Mom Home Guide Lauren of Mom Home Guide on Aug 11, 2020

    This video explains some of the basics about mulching, and about why it's not good to put a lot of mulch around a tree (it can harbor insects that harm the tree and can promote rot): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hbcifblzUY

  • I don't use mulch at all in my vegetable garden, Mo, simply because I don't know what chemicals it has been treated with.

    • See 1 previous
    • Oliva Oliva on Aug 12, 2020

      Install soaker hoses under heavy black plastic. Your planting area should have composted manure tilled into the area, the previous Fall. Weigh down the black plastic with rocks or landscape pins. Make "X" cuts through the plastic to water and place fertilizer, etc. before planting in early morning, late evening. You can use lighter weight stones to close the "X's".

      I wrap each tomato stem with 3-4" of newspaper to avoid cutworm problems.

      The soaker hoses can be placed on a timer, if desired. These hoses save evaporation issues. The black plastic avoids fungal problems, and won't hide insects, but keeps the plantings warm.

      Some people place Epsom salts in the planting holes to deter insects, as it travels through the plant.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Aug 11, 2020

    Hello Mo,

    It will help to keep the weeds at bay and help retain the water a little longer. No problems, just put it on, It will eventually root into the soil. Hope you get bigger tomatoes now!

  • Deb K Deb K on Aug 11, 2020

    Hi Mo, here's a little piece on mulching, hope it helps you out!


  • Em Em on Aug 11, 2020

    If you are concern (and we should be) with chemicals, fresh mulch from trees is not the same as chemically treated and dyed mulch for the big box stores. Ist, the dyed can be poisonous to dogs the chew on it and second the chemicals leech into the ground and are absorbed by the tomatoes thru the roots. Instead next year mound your soil up in rows for the plants about 6" higher in rows. Cover with weed barrier in strips. Cut an X with scissors where you want the plant to be and plant in the X. Keeps moisture in, weeds down to a bare minimum.

  • I always put mulch down, it helps with weeds and moisture. I would put about an inch down and don't put it around the roots, leave a little room. I would replace it every few years. We usually just put new mulch down and haven't been as good about replacing it and ours has been ok. We haven't had any problems with fungi.

  • Betsy Betsy on Aug 11, 2020

    Hi Mo: What I do is plant my tomatoes in pots with the bottoms removed. Actually, what I use are empty kitty litter containers :) I leave the pots sticking up about 2 inches so I know where they are. I water into the containers and the plants get all of the water and/or fertilizer, not the surrounding soil, and I don't have to water as often. I put my plants into the containers, fill with soil and any rods I want to use as supports, then put mulch around the containers. If you are not going to use containers, but mulch, a good idea is to water the surrounding area first. That way you don't have to water so much to get the water through the mulch and the plants will stay moist longer. I'm not much on using the landscape cloth or paper as the weeds will grow on top of those. I have a lot of tomatoes growing, and any weeds I have, I spray with the vinegar, epsom salt, dish washing liquid mix. It only kills the plant you spray, and there is no way it will get to my tomatoes. Good luck