Getting Mulch Ready to Absorb all that Winter Moisture

I have my swale in place and two huge mountains of mulch blocking my driveway.
Hubby getting a little tart about the fact that he can't drive in and out anymore. What to do? Get pathways that I was planning on mowing turned into sponges. Around the outside of the garden and inside the swale I have a wide path for bringing in wheelbarrows with straw or manure.

I had planned on just mowing it down but I see that due to the poor condition of the pasture (the reason we are turning it into pig pasture and then garden) I think that mulching is a better answer. I have very compacted soil there and I see that the first weed trying to poke through is canadian thistle. So what will mulch do for this space that mowing can't? First, it will push up against the swale and make it hard (not impossible) for weeds to get a start in spring. Second, it will absorb the weight of my steps instead of the ground itself so that the compaction will stop. Third, it will give a haven for insects, especially worms from the hot sun so that they can address compaction in the soil as well. Fourth, the mulch will absorb water during the water and to some degree share that moisture with the surrounding garden and swale rather than sucking water away from those areas.

I don't think it will look as nice or be as easy to navigate with a wheelbarrow as mowed, bare grass would be but in the past I have been happier with mulched pathways because the surrounding area seemed to come together as a whole habitat rather than having spotty and very different environments. As of yet I have not found a place that did not benefit from mulch, and in the spring with all of the snowmelt anywhere that I don't have mulch turns into a mud pit so for a garden I think it is really a great solution even if it began as a mandate from my husband!

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