Mulching with a weed free straw is advisable, but not required, on areas with new dirt work or on an extremely steep slope. Mulch helps to prevent erosion, and it helps reduce the amount of moisture lost into the air.
How Much Mulch is Needed?
A layer of straw mulch spread to where 50% of ground is still visible will allow seedlings to germinate but conserve water at the soil surface.
On steep sites, mulch heavier to the point where only 20% of the ground is visible). It is also advisable to increase seeding rates on erosive slopes because it is difficult to keep seed in place.
Alternatives to Mulching
Mulching may not be required if a cover crop has been used and not disked before planting. The cover crop provides protection from the falling rain and its root help hold the soil.
Cautions with Mulch
Straw often contains weed seeds. One of the most common is Curly Dock, but many others are possible. It is best to get straw that is certified weed-free or find a local, trustworthy farmer who can identify weeds and get it directly from the farmer. If the concern of weeds is too high, don’t bother with mulching.