I use mulch but I think since I have only been gardening here since 2006 that it has not had a chance to be really incorporated into the soil, the old mulch I mean. In one area where someone had been doing good gardening, yes it is soft and tilthy and grows wonderful small conifers very nicely. Mulch is over every other area of my garden, except for one section with small groundcovers I am trying and I am afraid to cover them up too much so only mulch lightly there. I guess too lightly. I will try to just let them come up through the mulch. I think, though, that this townhouse complex was built [in the 1980's] with a lot of coarse rocky fill tucked in here and there and then other bits are this gritty almost mountain-type soil interspersed with patches of clay. There are areas in my front garden that are mulch on top of the unsatisfactory soil, but I guess if I dig in the mulch now and then and put on fresh, ultimately it will improve. Sometimes after watering on a really hot day like lately, I find it is still dry underneath after all that watering and the mulch is moist on top.