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All About Options for Garden Mulch
From newspapers to pine needles, there are so many different types of mulch. Learn about the characteristics of popular garden mulch options.
The Role of Mulch
Why do gardeners apply mulch to their gardens? What exactly does mulch do? A variety of organic materials, and some non-organics, can be used to cover the soil around growing plants. While most garden mulch options improve the aesthetics of the landscape, the primary purpose is functional in nature.
Mulch serves to improve soil moisture, thereby conserving water and enhancing plant growth. For sloping gardens, it prevents the top layer of soil from eroding during heavy rains. Forming a protective layer between the earth and the air also helps to balance soil temperatures.
Aside from helping to manage soil, mulch inhibits weed growth. Laid on top of the ground, around growing plants, it blocks unwanted weeds from sprouting into the sunlight.
This in itself improves the nutrient content of the soil, as growing weeds would rob growing plants of some nutrition. Most organic mulches also provide extra nutrients as they decompose into the soil.
Garden Mulch Materials
Tips for Applying Garden Mulch
To apply mulch, start by eliminating weeds. Then spread whatever material you are planning to use around growing plants. Leave three to four inches free of mulch around each plant, and layer the material to a thickness of three to four inches.
When watering your garden, you can water directly onto the mulch. Be sure that the material is porous enough for plenty of water to reach the soil. Replace as needed, as it decomposes into the soil, or simply for the next growing season.
What is the right type of mulch for you? With so many different types of mulch to choose from, there are many garden mulch options.
People concerned with the environment may prefer newspapers or coconut; gardeners who are also farmers may have access to plenty of hay; for vegetable gardens, the best option may be compost and yard clippings; those that want durability year after year may appreciate rubber mulch; and, those who need attractive garden mulch options may choose gravel or wood chips.
Try whatever fits your needs and will best enhance your garden.
References: Garden Mulch Options
- “Different kinds of mulch before laying it down“
- “Types of Mulch.” (the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources)
- Musial, Peggy. “COVER ALL THE BASES WHEN CHOOSING RIGHT MULCH” (Orlando Sentinel)
- Photo by: Joe (CC/Flickr)