In a word: MULCH. Mulch suppresses weeds and helps to retain soil moisture. There are many kinds of mulch which can be classified in two groups: synthetic and organic. Synthetic mulches include plastic sheeting, plastic fabrics, carpet remnants and rubber chips recycled from used tires. Organic mulches include pine straw, wheat and similar grain straw, peanut hulls, pecan shells, grass clippings, chopped leaves, old newspapers, sawdust, wood chips and compost. I prefer organic mulches because they decompose and add nutrients to the soil. An effective layer of organic mulch should be about 3 inches deep. If the mulch settles, add more. Mulch can be spread too deeply, smothering desirable plants. Mulch in moderation.
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