Types and Uses of Mulch
Every garden needs a layer of mulch to enrich the soil or offer many other benefits to garden plants.
Mulch is any type of material that covers the surface of the soil. It is spread across the surface around plants, vegetables, and trees. It has many benefits and uses for the soil and the plants.
What are the two types of mulch?
Organic mulches are natural. You can buy organic mulches from the market. But, you can also source it easily from around your garden. These are the natural garden wastes. Organic mulches decompose over time. The main advantage and benefit of organic mulch is that it adds nutrients to the soil. However, it needs frequent topping up.
Organic mulches condition the soil. It can invite those friendly earthworms! These worms aerate the soil. They also reduce soil compaction.
Throughout the decomposition stage, the organic mulches help add nutrients to the soil. These nutrients are potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and trace elements.
Examples of organic mulches are leaves and grass clippings. Other samples are bark and straw. Straw is good to use for vegetable gardens. It easily decomposes and improves the soil.
Sugar cane is another organic mulch from dried sugar cane leaves. It looks beautiful in garden beds. Plus, it fosters helpful soil organisms.
There is also the pine bark. It is useful for
garden beds and pots. Because of its natural
color, it looks great in any garden.
For suppressing weeds, we recommend hardwood. It does not easily decompose. Hence, you don't need to top up often, perfect for stopping weeds. By the way, hardwood can look good too!
Similar to this are the woodchips. They also are used for weed control. Wood Chips also look attractive in a garden.
Coir is also an organic mulch. It comes from coconuts. Coir is a decorative mulch. It can come in concentrated blocks. It quickly expands upon adding water.
Another good example is lucerne mulch, which provides soil extra nitrogen. Lucerne is best for flowers and roses. It is also good for use with vegetables and fruit trees.
Grass clippings are also great mulches! It is used to grow a lush green garden. When you mow, dry the clippings then add them to your lawn.
Lastly, don’t forget the leaves! There are falling leaves every day. So you better maximize these. Gather them and use them as mulch. Better to shred them so they don’t get blown away by wind.
Inorganic mulches don’t provide the same fertility level as organic mulch. But they can be used as soil insulators as they don’t easily break down. Another benefit of inorganic mulch is that it keeps the soil warmer for a longer period. It also promotes good helpful bacteria. Lastly, it can extend the growth period of plants.
Inorganic mulches last longer. Because of this, costs associated with replacing the mulches are lesser. However, inorganic mulches are not contributing much to the soil.
Examples of inorganic mulch are black plastic or weed mat and gravel and pebbles. Other samples are landscape fabric and newspapers.
For weed control, black plastic or weed mat is highly recommended. Under the direct sun though, it can easily break down. So try to bury it deeper into the soil for it to last a little bit longer. You can also cut out holes for use as water drainage.
Gravel, pebbles, and river stone are more permanent. These are best used for foundation plants. These are good to partner with plants that need more heat. Plants that require good drainage can also benefit from gravel, pebbles, and stone. Also, pebbles and stones make a good design too!
Landscape fabrics work like plastic. However, it lets the air and water better. To maximize this, you can still add organic mulch on top.
Old newspaper is also an inorganic mulch. Recycle the newspaper. It helps suppress the weeds.
Other examples of inorganic mulches include plastic sheeting and rocks. Rubber chips or non-woven geotextiles are also considered as inorganic mulches.
Uses and Benefits of Mulch
● Lock the moisture in the soil.
● Stop the nutrients from being washed away easily.
● Contributes to soil health.
● Blocks sunlight to suppress weeds from growing.
● Cools the soil.
● Maintains even temperature of soil.
● Prevents frost in winter.
● Protects from erosion.
● Protects from mechanical injury from weed eaters and lawnmowers.
● Some mulches repel ticks, gnats, and fleas.
● Makes the garden bed looks beautiful.
Other Useful Tips:
● Don’t put too much mulch.
● Mulch shouldn’t be more than three inches deep.
● Spread mulch to be two to four inches thick.
● Put mulch around the tree. This can protect the trunk.
● Mulch should be at least 1-3 inches away from the trunk of a tree. Doing so may cause rotting and root and trunk diseases.
● Use mulch as accents.
● Decorate with mulch.
● Try different mulches for various areas of your garden.
● Remove old much that has been there for a long period. Do this before adding new mulch.
● Don’t put directly against plant crowns or tree bases
● Water after mulching to help it settle onto the soil.
● Check mulch once in a while. Keep it from being washed away.
● Remove weeds. Even if mulch can help ward off weeds, these can still minimally grow.
● You can also apply a low-nitrogen balanced fertilizer to your garden beds before mulching.
If you are looking for great mulches to use in your garden, try the mulch by Soil Yourself. We have a variety of mulches for your different garden needs.