When most people think of mulch, they immediately imagine the wood chips used in landscaping and scattered around playgrounds. However, this is only one type. Mulch comes in many different varieties, each with different properties and benefits. Homeowners can rely on high-quality mulch to save time with their landscaping and protect their gardens from weeds, among other perks. If you own a home and want to make the exterior landscape as beautiful and healthy as possible, mulch is one of the most important tools you need. Keep reading to the homeowner’s guide to mulch.
What Is Mulch?
“Mulch” is a broad term that can apply to any material used in landscaping to retain soil moisture, keep ground temperature moderate, and protect plants from weeds. There are two main categories of mulch: organic and inorganic.
Typically, inorganic mulches such as geotextiles, landscaping fabrics, and plastics are most useful for commercial properties. Gravel and stone also see common use as mulch, primarily in very dry areas. Inorganic mulches don’t do much to improve soil health, but they help keep landscaped areas tidy, minimize the appearance of weeds, and make lawn control much easier on very large properties.
Most homeowners and residential property owners will use organic mulches made of wood chips, compost, bark chips, shredded leaves, straw, salt hay, or even shredded newspapers. These materials offer many different benefits and generally offer much better results for a residential landscape than inorganic mulch.
What Does Mulch Do?
Mulch serves several purposes in a landscape or garden:
- Mulch covers the soil around plants, helping the soil retain more moisture that it would otherwise lose through evaporation. This means the soil around those plants will not require watering as frequently.
- Mulch protects plants from weeds. By laying it across the surface of the soil, it prevents any weed seeds in the soil from gathering the sunlight needed to grow. Most standard weeds in shady spots will only call for about two to three inches of mulch coverage to prevent growth, but more robust weeds in sunny areas could require four to six inches of mulch to completely prevent them from growing.
- The right mulch can completely change the look of a landscape, making it appear more cohesive and tidier. It can be a beautiful accent to plants, shrubs, and flowers.
- As organic mulches decompose, they naturally enrich the soil with nutrients that encourage better growth for flowers and vegetables grown in the soil.
- Mulching can dramatically cut down the time needed to care for a landscape and garden. Watering and weeding will be less frequent requirements, and plants will grow much stronger thanks to the nutrient boost a good mulch can provide.
These are the main reasons why homeowners like to add mulch to their gardens. Organic mulch comes in many different varieties, each with their own unique perks and benefits. Some plants thrive and grow stronger with certain types of mulch, but ultimately it is one of the best tools any homeowner can use to make gardening much easier.
If you haven’t used mulch for your garden before and want to give it a try, it’s important to assess what types of plants you have growing around your home and choose a mulch that’s suited to their soil coverage and nutrient needs.
Picking the Right Mulch for Your Landscaping Project
If you want to use mulch successfully, first consider what type of plants you want to protect. If you have a vegetable garden and want to promote a nice harvest, you may want to try experimenting with inorganic black plastic, which will retain heat and keep soil warm throughout the night. This can be very beneficial to plants that prefer warm soil and using high-quality soil will ensure the plants receive the nutrients they need for strong growth. Organic mulches such as wood, bark, grass clippings, and shredded leaves can effectively retain soil moisture and add a nutrient boost to the vegetable patch, but they can also attract pests in some areas.
For homeowners who are trying to protect plants and flowers but don’t have much need for growth-promoting mulches suited for vegetable gardens, wood chips are a great option. This type of mulch will retain soil moisture and minimize the need to water these plants, all the while protecting them from weeds. It’s best to spread mulch over a pre-weeded area in a suitably thick layer, leaving a bit of space around the stems of plants. Crowd them too much, and wet mulch could cause rot to develop.
It’s also a great idea to experiment with different kinds of mulches and combinations. If you’re trying to encourage your rose bushes to bloom, a layer of compost with eggshell fragments on top of the soil can provide an incredible nutrient boost, and a layer of dark-colored wood chips over the compost layer will help retain moisture and protect the compost while minimizing the chances of weeds sprouting. A darker mulch can also enhance the visual impact of your roses.
These are just a few ways to use mulch the right way. Ultimately, the best mulch for your property comes down to your visual preferences and your goals for the plants around your home. The Lammon Brothers offer mulch, topsoil, sand, and stone delivery to Toledo and northwest Ohio
Contact us today to see how we can help you with your mulching this season.