Deep Mulch Method for Gardening Part 1: Keeping Weeds at Bay

Have you tried the deep mulch method in your garden? Click here to see how using this method keeps the weeds at bay in my garden. Deep Mulch Gardening | Gardening Tips | Back to Eden Garden

Trying new things is fun and sometimes hard. One of the things that I have learned from homesteading is that you have to go with the flow and try new things. If you don’t do that, you can get frustrated and ready to quit.

So this year, something new I am trying is the deep mulch method for my garden. I had heard about this from several homesteading bloggers over the last few years. Weeding is always a battle for me, as it is for most gardeners. Especially if I go out of town for a couple of days and get behind on weeding. Sometimes I come home to such an overgrown mess that I just want to give up!

strawberries growing in hay mulch

My main inspiration for using the deep mulch method came from Jill of the Prairie Homestead. She just raves about this gardening method and how it has changed her outlook on gardening.

She even wrote an ebook on the deep mulch method and several blog posts.

There is also a trend called Back to Eden Gardening. You can check out the video here. While this trend is popular in the gardening community, this post by Quinn at Reformation Acres made me decide to go with hay instead of wood chips. We did use wood chips in between the garden boxes to keep the weeds down there.

So after researching all of last year, I decided that I was going to give it a try.

This blog post is about getting started with the deep mulch method of gardening and my observations so far.

starting a raised bed mulched garden

How do you start the deep mulch method?

  1. Clear out your garden boxes (or ground area) from weeds and leftovers from last years garden.
  2. Loosely cover the entire area with mulch.
  3. Pull back mulch and plant your seeds or plants where they need to go.
  4. Allow time for the plants/seeds to grow so that you can tell between weeds and veggies.
  5. Scoot in the mulch around each plant so that you squelch out the weeds around your plants.
  6. Add mulch as necessary, because the wind may blow it off or it may just need to be thicker.
  7. Enjoy your plants without so much weeding!

building a hay mulch raised garden bed

What is the best product to use for mulch?

There is some debate about this. I am using hay for mulch. The farmer I got the hay from told me that it was the third cut, which doesn’t have much seed in it. I also live in a dry climate, so it is less likely that the hay will germinate.

If you are worried about hay seed in your garden, use straw instead. I will keep an eye on mine and let you know how it did at the end of the season.

I wouldn’t suggest wood chips for mulch in your garden. Wood chips can create a thick, wet mess when watered that can add mildew to your garden. We use wood chips in between our boxes as a weed barrier. You can read more about wood chip mulch here.

Click to see how the deep mulch method for gardening has saved us from the weeding nightmare!Click To Tweet

squash growing in a hay mulch raised garden bed

How has it kept down the weeds in my garden?

So far the deep mulch method has DRASTICALLY reduced the weeding needed in our garden. At first it was hard to know how much hay to add and how thick. We had a late spring snow (mid May) so we planted late this year. But now as our veggies are coming up from seed, we can keep the weeds down around them by pushing in the mulch closer to the plants. There are still some weeds in the boxes (nothing is perfect) but they are mostly on the outskirts of the boxes where they come up under the wood chips on the ground. Either way, I only spend about 10 minutes a day pulling weeds and the garden is much easier to handle and maintain.

a raised bed garden growing with hay mulch

How often do you have to replace mulch?

This depends on your area and climate. We can have a lot of wind where we are, but the mulch seems to stay in place pretty well. I have some extra hay left that I will use to replenish the mulch when needed. Whenever you see that the mulch has blown away or moved, that is when you need to replace it. The hay will also break down over time (nutrients for your soil!), so it may need a facelift every now and then.

raspberries growing in a mulched raised bed garden

How do you hope this method benefits you throughout the gardening season?

  • My main reason for starting the deep mulch method is to get rid of the weeds.
  • Another reason is to add nutrients to the soil over time.
  • The mulch also keeps moisture in the ground by adding a layer of insulation. This is very beneficial during the hot days of summer.

mulched raised bed garden

In this first post on deep mulch gardening, I hope to show you how and why I got started with this method. At the end of the season, I will come back and let you know of my results and we can determine if we thought this was a good method for gardening. If you would like to see a live video of my garden, you can join my private Facebook group Provident Homesteading and I there is a Facebook Live video I did for the group in there. It shows you my backyard and garden and some of my thoughts on both.

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Do you use mulch in your garden? Please let us know in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful, please share. Thanks!


  1. Sarah

    Great article. I used to use wood chip mulch too, but not only does it get mouldy like you said, but it also sucks out the nutrients from the soil that should be going to the plant.

    1. Julie @ Our Provident Homestead

      that’s good to know. thanks!

  2. Teri

    We use grass clippings from the lawn. I usually just do it once in the spring after everything has come up. I think I will do it again a month or two later next year. It keeps the weeds down, but also the moisture in. It gets hot here in the summer.

    1. Julie @ Our Provident Homestead

      I love using mulch. It helps so much in the garden!

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