Basically, all mulch falls into two categories – organic and inorganic. There are obviously some benefits to using an organic form of mulch. The main benefit is that any organic substance will eventually break down. In that regard, organic is a much more eco friendly choice.
However, the type of landscape mulch that you ultimately choose to use depends on your personal needs.
- Pine Bark: Pine Bark is an extremely popular choice in many flower beds. It is extremely effective at controlling weeds and retaining moisture.
- Hardwood Mulch: You can get hardwood in two different types of mulch. The first is wood chips and the second is in a shredded form. Both types have advantages, but most people feel that the shredded option is easier to work with and more attractive. Shredded hardwood will also decompose more slowly than wood chips.
- Hay or Straw: First, there is a difference between hay and straw and hay should never be used as a mulch in your yard as the hay itself contains weeds. Straw can be used effectively, but it’s not really very attractive and it decomposes very rapidly. It is, however, a good choice to cover new lawn area while you wait for your grass to come in.
- Pine Needles: This type of landscape mulch is actually quite attractive depending on the type of flower beds that you have. It allows water to penetrate very easily and is effective at retaining moisture. It’s also a wonderful weed barrier. Think about walking through a forest that’s full of pine needles – how many weeds do you see? For a different look, pine needles are a great choice.
- Ground Cover: Okay, I know that ground cover isn’t exactly mulch, but I think it’s worth mentioning here. Many ground covers can be used effectively in place of mulch. It can be an effective form of weed control and will cover your soil – effectively protecting the root area of the plants and retaining moisture.
- Gravel, Stone, or Pebbles: By far the most popular of all inorganic mulches avaiable, these are good for places where your plants are permanent. Because rocks don’t decompose, it can be a real hassle when you want to replant in an area that’s already covered in rocks or pebbles. You only need about an inch of any of these substances to assist with weed control.
- Ground Rubber Tire Mulch: A fairly new option on the market, it is an interesting way to deal with tires. It won’t break down and never needs to be replaced. That said, since the rubber is typically dark colored (as in, BLACK!), it is going to generate additional heat in your garden, just like a asphalt driveway would.
- Landscape Cloth: Not really attractive at all, landscape cloth is usually laid as a weed barrier and then covered with another form of mulch for aesthetics. Landscape cloth is preferable to using garbage bags as it allows air to travel through it.
- Trash Bags: Again, these are usually used for weed control and not as a decorative measure. Never use clear plastic bags – they are not effective at stopping weeds. You can use black trash bags, but as mentioned above, using landscape cloth is a better choice these types of covers “breath.”
While not a comprehensive list of the types of mulch that are available, this should help to get you on the right path. What you should do now is head out to your local garden store. Look around at the options available in your area to see what appeals to you.
It’s my favorite time of year again, that time of year when I get to get my garden ready for the the summer season. A few days ago I talked about drip irrigation, a great way to save money and water out in the garden.
Whether or not you are using a drip irrigation system, you’ll want to use mulch in all of your flower beds. There’s lots of reasons to do this, all of which are good.
~ First, landscape mulch is attractive. A nicely mulched flower bed looks much nicer than plain dirt.
~ It’s cost-effective. In Hawaii, there are places where I can get it free as long as I pick it up and haul it. I would suspect that there are similar places throughout the country. Even if you end up purchasing mulch, it’s still relatively cheap when compared with the benefits that you’ll receive from using it.
~ Landscape mulch assists with water consumption. The mulch holds moisture in the landscape and this is especially true when you are using a drip irrigation system. Keeping the water in the landscape means less water used and lower water bills.
~ Mulch is a weed-barrier. It stops weeds from getting the sunlight that they need to grow which results in less weeds overall. Every gardener knows that’s a good thing!
~ Landscape mulch helps to keep your soil cool in the summer and warm in the winter, helping to keep your soil temperature more even.
~ Organic mulches eventually decompose and become topsoil with nutrients. This process improves the quality of the soil.
~ Plants that are grown in mulch will have better root structures. This is partly because the hot sun never reaches the root area of the plant. The use of landscape mulch also allows for more roots.
~ It’s easy to install and maintain. Once it’s been initially installed, you only need to top it off as it starts to decompose.
If you haven’t yet used landscape mulch in your garden, this summer is the time to start. You’ll enjoy a much more attractive garden, healthier plants, and you’ll be required to water less often and to use less water.
Spring is here and it's time to start thinking about your garden. There's nothing that makes me happier than getting my garden spruced up each spring and I'm always on the lookout for new plants and products to add to what I already have.