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I am always unsure when to mulch, will I damage new shoots if I cover them with compost.
At this time of year I mulch around plants, leaving a circle of free soil where the new shoots are coming through.
Its generally a good idea to add mulch to the soil during the winter months when plants/shrubs are in their dormant phase (no stem/shoot growth). I always use old compost in large quantities as a mulch and spread it liberally over the surface of the soil which in my region is heavy clay. The organic matter helps improve the soil structure and aids drainage and nutrient uptake by plants when Spring arrives and today feels like Spring is here.
I always apply mulch to plant and shrubs in early spring and use my own composted material. The reason I use my own compost is because it is not completely broken down yet and retains woody elements that gives it a more solid structure that is better for a mulch material
Be very generous and spread up to 2in thick around the base of the plants
The mulch will retain the moisture to the soil and reduce the level of weeds around your plants.A good trick is to well water the area preparing to mulch before so the plants retain the moisture in the ground a lot longer