University of Maryland Extension

Mulching and Irrigation - Small Fruits

mulched brambles

Organic mulches are always beneficial to small fruits. They help to:

  • Suppress weeds;
  • Maintain even soil temperatures;
  • Hold moisture in soil;
  • Add organic matter;
  • Protect overwintering plant crowns;
  • Keep fruits clean; and
  • Prevent root damage from shallow cultivation.

Straw, shredded leaves, rotted sawdust, grass clippings, newspaper, and compost can be used to mulch small fruit plants. Chopped pine bark, pine needles, and sawdust are good materials to use around blueberries. A winter mulch can be spread around plants to help prevent the freezing-thawing cycle, which can heave and damage plants. However, keep mulch from touching plant crowns to prevent vole feeding.
Mulch strawberries with straw as weed control in strawberry beds is an important factor. 

Irrigation is also very beneficial to small fruits. The rule of thumb is one inch of water per week during the growing season (65 gallons per 100 sq. ft.). This need increases during flowering and fruiting. Supplement rainfall when necessary. To discourage disease problems, water in the morning and avoid wetting the foliage. Soaker hoses or drip irrigation lines work well in a small fruit planting.

Maintained by the IET Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. © 2021. Web Accessibility

University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected class. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any event or activity, please contact your local University of Maryland Extension Office.