Mulch or Compost, what's the difference? Watch The Gardening Tutor's video Mulch vs. Compost before you decide what your garden needs.
If you have not already applied a layer of mulch to your garden, I encourage you to plan for this task in March. If the soil in your garden is saturated, it’s a good idea to wait until we have a few days break in the rain, to allow the soil to dry a bit before applying mulch. Walking on saturated soil can really compact the soil and compromise the soil structure. When applying mulch in the rainy season, it’s a good idea to use some small pieces (2’ x 2’or so) of plywood or something similar for you to step on as you spread the mulch over the soil surface. Using the boards will help to disperse your weight over the soil in order to lessen the compaction.
Many people ask what the difference is between mulch, compost, and amendments. The term "mulch" refers to anything that is placed on top of the soil (like frosting on a cake). Mulch can be just about anything that covers the soil including gravel, bark, recycled glass, and even cut up rubber tires (not recommended). Amendment is anything that is mixed into the soil including, feather meal, bone meal, and other dry fertilizers etc. Compost is decayed organic materials. Compost can be used as either an amendment, a mulch on top of the soil, or both.
The benefits of compost as mulch are numerous. Applying a 3” layer of compost mulch (less than a thick 3" layer will allow sunlight to reach the dormant weed seeds and help them sprout instead of smothering them):
We are so fortunate in the Santa Rosa, CA area that we have local suppliers who mix their own mulch so that we can buy in bulk (instead of bags) and save money. A 10’ by 10’ area of your garden spread with a 3” layer of mulch uses approximately one cubic yard of material.
Dark Brown Compost from Worm Castings (poop).
Clematis armandii is fragrant. Tip: Smell flowers in the nursery before deciding to buy it.
Pink Veronica: Prune to the ground in spring and late summer to encourage full foliage and flower.