The proper use of summer mulches reduces moisture loss, cuts down on weeding and keeps plant roots cool and moist. A 2-3" layer of mulch is suggested. Do not mulch over the crown of the plant as this can cause rot. Organic materials like shredded leaves and bark are good choices. Routine mulching of established plantings in the fall may be good insurance against winter injury. Materials that can be used include evergreen boughs, marsh hay or pine needles. Do not apply these winter mulches until the ground is frozen and be certain to remove them as soon as the plants commence growth in the spring.