Mulching around your garden or landscape plants might aid in improving their physical appearance, reduce erosion, conserve water and improve the overall look of the soil. In some areas where water conservation is a significant concern, mulching is even mandated by law. Not every mulch material has the same properties or works nicely for the same plants, however. Should you take the opportunity to inspect the advantages and downsides of all of the significant mulching materials before purchasing, you’ll have the ability to find the very best mulch for your specific garden and situation.
Wood and Bark
Chipped wood and bark, in addition to sawdust and ground wood mulch, are affordable substances that will help conserve water and improve moisture penetration. They may be employed by themselves or placed over plastic or landscape material. Uncomposted wood mulches can tie up soil nitrogen because they decay but become a rich source of this nutrient following several years have passed. Some wood mulches can harbor termites and other insect pests, but cedar and cedar are insect-resistant.
Grass, Hay and Straw
These mulch materials could be picked from the landscape or bought cheaply from local origins. They are reliably available and simple to apply, but may mat should you use a very thick layer. Straw is free of seeds, but grass clippings and hay may incorporate weed seeds that could invade your own landscape. All of grass-type mulch materials should be thoroughly dry once you employ them to reduce mold. Pine needles provide similar benefits but are much more acidic than wax or grass.
Leaf Damage and Compost
These partially decayed mulches are less ornamental than some other materials, but they’re also less inclined to tie up important nutrients your plants need. These substances are relatively cheap and easy to find, but they must be prepared properly to eliminate weed seeds and other potentially problematic inclusions. Leaf mould can be acidic and must be used carefully in high pH soils.
Paper provides an inexpensive, easy-to-apply mulch alternative, particularly for vegetable gardens. Shredded newspapers perform like grass and hay but without the potential for grass seeds. Both shredded and folded paper lack stability in windy conditions and need compost or straw to hold them in place. Resin or raisin paper contains a water-resistant resin that causes it to break down more slowly. You need less of the paper to produce effective mulch, but it still needs compost or another absorbent material to keep it from blowing away. Paper can also harbor sow bugs and earwigs.
Plastic mulches are typical in commercial farms and also some larger home-growing situations. They can help heat up the soil in spring and reduce vandalism and evaporation. Black plastic additionally controls weeds, but crystal clear plastic doesn’t — except when used as part of a soil solarization process. Polypropylene fabric is more expensive than these alternatives but allows air and water to penetrate. Most conventional plastics break down from wind, sunlight and rain but don’t biodegrade, making disposal a concern. You can also choose special photodegradable plastic picture that may not have to be taken out of the area.
Stone and Sand
Rocks and mud are more often employed for landscapes rather than vegetable gardens, because they can be extremely heavy and can make the ground very warm. These nonorganic mulches cut down on weed growth and produce a beautiful landscape but can be very pricey compared to other kinds of mulch. Landscape fabric must be used beneath both these types of mulch to keep them from sinking into the ground.