Mulch is vital for creating a garden that looks presentable. The benefits of applying mulch to your garden are that it reduces evaporation, stops weeds from germinating (which any gardener knows is a major perk!) and gives your garden that attractive, finished look. Not to mention, mulch is inexpensive and easy enough to apply. In addition to it being an inexpensive purchase, mulch can save you on your water bill by reducing the need to leave the sprinklers running to apply the required level of water to keep your plants alive, especially during the dry summer months. Plus, it protects the plant roots from extreme temperatures and sudden fluctuations which can affect a plant’s growth and longevity.
There are several different types of mulch, and they fall in separate price points and have different aesthetics. So, depending on what you’re using it for, you might opt for a different type of mulch. Below are a few types to get you started:
Autumn and Spring offer us for free, and a constantly available mulch source, which can last up to one year. It is recommended to chop the leaves prior to using them in order to prevent matting, which prevents water from reaching the roots of the plants. This is the “organic” chemical free approach to gardening. However, this informal look can cause some gardeners to opt for a more attractive mulch.
The benefit to using this type of mulch is that, since this mulch is finely shredded with less wood chunks, it breaks down slowly over time and actually nourishes your soil. It works well on slopes and areas that are prone to flooding. This mulch is triple shredded.
This type of mulch is widely available and can last from one to three years. It’s natural look tends to blend in and looks great in woodland settings. This mulch is doubled shredded, meaning there are some wood chunks that take longer to break down.
Brown, Red, & Black Dyed Mulch
This type of mulch is usually made from recycled wood waste and dyed with coloring that is not harmful to plants, animals, or the environment. The result is a sleek-looking mulch that can match your home's aesthetics. However, it is important to note that colored mulch does not breakdown into your soil as well as undyed mulch. In addition, colored mulch has the tenancy for the color to fade during the growing season. Typically, dyed mulch is moderately priced and, a benefit of it not breaking down is that it lasts longer.
Right Dress Licorice Root
This is a high-quality mulch product that is resistant to decomposition and is sterilized to be free of weed seeds and insect larvae. Not only that, but it can be applied year-round.
Before applying the mulch you have to prep the garden beds by removing any existing weeds. Some people choose to lay landscape fabric in the gardens beds before mulching, although we do not suggest doing this. As the mulch breaks down on top of the landscape fabric, it turns to soil, hence the perfect conditions for weed seedlings to grow on top of the landscape fabric. It is suggested prior to mulching to apply a pre-emergence weed control to hinder weed seed germination in your newly mulched beds. One of the best known pre-emergence weed control products is Preen. Should you prefer the organic gardening approach there are many organic pre-emergence weed control products made from Corn Gluten available at your local garden center. The best way to move your mulch to your desired location is, of course, a wheel barrow.
When applying the mulch, you want to use an even layer of about two to four inches in order to retain water and prevent weed growth. A mulching fork is a great tool for this. When applying the mulch in close proximity to a shrub, be sure to apply a thin layer of mulch near the base of the shrub. By mulching heavy over the shrubs root mass, there is the possibility of suffocating the roots plus water will not reach the roots during natural rainfall. Every couple of years, you will need to renew organic mulch, which is as simple as spreading the new mulch over the old and you’re good to go.
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