Mulching is the practice of covering your soil to improve the conditions for your plants. It helps with water retention, soil temperature control, and weed prevention. Mulch can be everything from pebbles to dry leaves, so in this blog post we’ll go over all the different types and their specifications. Read on.
Composted Manure – Can be used almost anywhere. Manure however has to be properly ripened before use. Also make sure there are no weeds in the mix. Best used for insulation. Gives a boost of slowly released nutrients. If you are unsure, check our composting guide.
Leaves – Most universal mulch. Your garden will love it. It also attracts earthworms to the soil.
Grass Clippings – Best used on places that you don’t really grow anything on. Good for suppressing weeds. Be aware that when it decomposes it can produce a foul odour. So don’t throw away the product of your lawn mowing.
Straw & Hay – Best for vegetable gardens. Because straw decomposes slow it will last the growing season. It serves as a great shelter for spiders and beneficial insects, which will help you keep the pest population in control.
Cocoa beans – Cocoa hulls are an excellent choice when you want to increase the soil’s vitality. Regardless if it’s a vegetable garden or flower beds. Cocoa bean hulls also help retain moisture in garden beds. It will also help you cut back on herbicide.
Bark (both softwood and hardwood) – Great around trees, shrubs and in garden beds. Places you won’t be doing a lot of digging. Will last longer than other organic mulches.
Living Mulch – Basically plants that grow close to the ground, like hen and chicks. Some of the ground covers can play a role in providing food for the other plants.
Plastic and Landscape Fabric – Great around shrubs and trees. The cons are that in the summer plastic gets hot and it might damage plant roots, but that’s a pro in winter when you need to keep them warm.
Stones – Stones can be perfect for mulch depending on what your goal is. If you want to retain heat then black stones will do a great job. If you want to reflect the light and heat then white stones should be the best option.
Pros & Cons Of Mulching
- The soil heats slower. This way plant roots don’t stress from the heat.
- In the winter water won’t cycle between melting and freezing. This is good because the when water freezes and melts it shrinks and expands.
- Mulch helps water stay in the soil. It’s great because you don’t have to water as often. This saves time and money.
- Early growing plants won’t be fooled to grow earlier in winter because of the warm weather.
- All kinds of slugs and animals love cool dark and damp places. One way to combat animals staying underground is to use a very thin layer of mulch.
- The drawback is that perennials might bloom late or soil might not be ready for spring planting. If so, rake back mulch until the soil warms up. Or, if you don’t mulch over winter, wait until plants green up before mulching.
- One problem with slowing down the ground heating process is that it may cause flowers to bloom late. Conversely, it may also planting may occur too early for the soil to handle. If this happens, rake back the mulch or don’t mulch until plants green.
- There is a downside to slowed evaporation.When water does not evaporate as quickly, the ground can become soggy for several days. If plant beds become too wet, use a rake to remove mulch to allow for drying.