When we think of the word mulch we tend to envision brown, bark-like material applied to a flowerbed, but did you know mulch exists in many forms? Let’s explore why mulch benefits your gardens and what options are available for your home and budget.
Applying mulch to your garden reduces weed growth, which will have a beneficial impact on your plants. Weeds deplete soil of nutrients and moisture when they grow and therefore limit the supply to the plants you want in your garden. They also have the ability to choke the root systems of your plants and cause them to die.
Water evaporation is slowed significantly from soil when mulch is applied. Watering a flowerbed that is mulched will result in up to 50% less evaporation than one that is uncovered. Mulch that is applied shortly after new plantings can increase the ground’s moisture and promote healthier root growth.
Various types of mulch are available for your garden. You may be familiar with:
- Shredded bark mulch – an inexpensive and easy-to-find option
- Pine bark nuggets – does not break down as easily as other mulches, but also don’t stay in place as well
- Wood chips – often a free option from local tree trimmers. Be sure to find out if the source tree had poison ivy to prevent infecting your garden.
- Cocoa hull mulch – A fine texture and rich color make this non-fading mulch a favorite for gardeners, although it is one of the most expensive
- Did you also know you can use alternative natural materials as mulch? Consider using:
- Grass clippings – a cheap and readily available material
- Decaying leaves – helps to retain more moisture than average mulch
- Compost – a material that will supply your garden with an abundance of healthy nutrients as it breaks down
- Hay – although cheap and easy to apply, it is less ornamental than other mulch options
- Rubber (shredded reusable materials) – extremely long lasting but does not provide any nutrients to the soil
- Decorative Stone – a very long-lasting option that also holds heat or stays cold much longer than alternative mulch materials
Whether you use a traditional or nonconventional material for mulching your garden, your plants will appreciate you taking steps to keep them well-watered. With benefits like less weeds and a more uniformed looking garden, what are you waiting for? Get started this weekend!