The need for supplemental irrigation is reduced when organic mulches are properly applied around plants. Examples of organic mulches include wood chips, cedar mulch, straw, leaves, cottonseed hulls, etc. These types of mulches decrease soil temperatures in the heat of summer while limiting evaporation from the soil surface. Organic mulch also discourages weed growth and breaks down over time helping to improve the condition of the soil (Soil Preparation). Generally, a 2-4” layer of organic mulch is ideal in most situations.
Inorganic mulches such as gravel are generally not recommended for use around plants as they can create a hotter, harsher environment for plant roots. Organic mulches are preferred for use around plants in most situations.