http://www.durgan.org/URL/?DQFDJ 14 September 2009 Wood Chip Mulch
Over the last three years, I have become an advocate of mulch on all my garden beds. This wood mulch is supplied by the city available in one of the parks. It varies a bit in texture depending when one picks it up.
In my case the soil about two feet down is hard packed material,which is almost impenetrable, so there is no wick effect from ground table water. All my moisture comes from overhead water or rain if you like, so drying out is often encountered.The mulch disintegrates rather quickly, and I am constantly adding a new layer. This no doubt improves the soil to a large degree.
The mulch inhibits evaporation and enhances growth considerably,hence little extra watering is necessary. I have four 45 gallon drums to collect rainwater and utilize this in extreme dry conditions, but avoid watering as much as possible.