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Do not spread compost or old farmyard manure around rose-bushes in winter because this keeps the ground cold and wet. Instead, use it as a summer mulch to conserve moisture. Many other products are available to mulch roses, including old sawdust, straw, leaf-mould and peat moss.
If the mulching of roses is unsuccessful, it is because the mulch has been carelessly applied. Timing is important. Wait until new growth is well along and the soil is rapidly warming up. Remove all traces of weeds and thoroughly wet the soil immediately before mulching. Cultivate fertilizer into the soil. Spread the mulch loosely to permit free circulation of air, the depth depending upon the product. Keep lawn mowings very loose and no deeper than I in. when they have settled; they tend to pack down tightly and may introduce weeds.