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Home is where the heart is, and if you’re anything like me your heart is planted firmly in your garden. So along with your heart, how do you keep all those plants happy? Well, it is all in the soil, and soil health is intricately tied to your mulch. Most people either ignore mulch, or they approach it as a one size fits all product.

I am here to tell you this is not the case. There are many types of mulch and there are many ways to use it.

First off let’s talk about what mulch is, and what it does.

When talking of “Mulch” I am referring to the material that covers the soil in and around your garden. Mulch should be used to outline your garden beds to make them really stand out. In addition by sitting over the soil mulch works to protect your garden from soil from erosion. Mulch can help maintain moisture levels and reduce watering needs, and in some cases it can help prevent (or at least minimize) weed growth. In addition as mulch breaks down it releases nutrients into the soil, acting as a sort of slow release fertilizer. For these reasons, when choosing mulch you must think about what soil properties you want/need to enhance and what growing conditions you have to maintain. Another aspect of mulch is its aesthetics.

While it may sound funny, each type of mulch has its own color, pattern and texture. With careful planning you can not only improve your garden’s health, you can also add to its beauty. But with so many mulch varieties, how do you choose the right one.

Below is a very brief list of the various types of mulch, and their general properties. Remember we are talking about biological and agricultural products here, and so access to each type of mulch may be dictated by geographic or financial restrictions.How Daily Dose of Mulch Keeps Your Garden Healthy

For example it may be hard to get mulch made from Red Wood trees in south Florida.

  1. Stone/Rock: Ok this is not really true “mulch” per se, but a gravel bed will protect your soil and depending on your soil of choice it may have a particularly exciting aesthetic when used correctly. Gravel comes in a variety of shapes, colors and styles and may work well for xeroscapes or cactus gardens.
  2. Bark Mulch and Waste Wood: Depending on the tree source (or the dye used to color it) this mulch may be a variety of colors, such as red, brown and even shades of green. Pine trees, redwood and even cypress are often used. These mulches come in various sized and while it can take over a year for most of these to be incorporated into the soil, the larger the particles in the mulch the slower the decomposition will be. Personally I like Eucalyptus mulch; it has insect repelling properties and smells great. Be careful, some pine mulch can acidify your soils, and some of the cheaper products may contain construction waste, which may include pressure treated wood (not safe for vegetable garden mulching).
  3. City Tree Trimmings: If timed correctly this mulch can be obtained for free while the city is processing its landscaping waste. It tends to be a hodge podge of plant material and may not be as pretty as a more manicured product, but you can’t beat that price.
  4. Home Made Mulch: Yes you can make your own! It’s easy, don’t through away your garden or kitchen waste, rather, mix it together and apply it to your garden.

These mulches tend to break down quickly which can be frustrating, but they also tend to be high in nitrogen and carbon and so are great fertilizers. Kitchen waste should be composted before applying it to the garden.

Be careful though, using garden waste may be a great (or terrible way) to spread weeds if it is not sourced or composted correctly. So now that you have chosen mulch, what can you do to maintain the mulch, minimize rapid degradation and keep your plants healthy?

First off don’t over mulch, everything is better in moderation. Typically mulch should be approximately 4 inches thick, this is thick enough to minimize weed growth but thin enough to protect your garden. Over mulching can damage the base of your plants and prevent healthy sprouts.

Rule number two is: don’t keep the mulch too moist. Remember mulch traps moisture in the soil. If your mulch is wet to the touch, the soil is probably soaking. Also wet mulch breaks down faster and so will cost you more in the long run.

Some final words of warning; it was mentioned above but it is important so I will say it again: don’t use pressure treated woods in mulch that is used around food crops.

Also mentioned above, don’t use mulch with weed seeds, trust me you will be sorry if you do. At the end of the day mulching is easy to do, and is a great way to improve the health and looks of your garden.

If you’re having trouble starting out, don’t be afraid to speak to your local gardening center or nursery. They should be able to help you with mulching ideas, and will probably be able to source some hard to find mulches for sale if you are interested. So get out there this growing season and mulch away to your heart’s content.

Author’s Bio:
Alicia Silverstone has been a professional writer for six years. She has received awards for being a top content producer. She writes articles that are related to grass lawn maintenance, mulches and weeds

Categories: Home

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