I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July weekend! Our weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Every minute of the weekend was booked, as usual.
My weekend was rounded out with a trip down to my parents house, where the valley was abuzz because it’s haying season.
As I went and visited my with my Aunt at her house, she mentioned that her Lady’s Mantle was growing like crazy and that she still had to mulch her one bed that was full of it. So, that of course got me thinking about mulching and why it is important and why you should do it.
Mulch is any layer or covering over soil. Mulch can be a number of things, I found out. And I was surprised that some of it was considered to be mulch. But, it makes sense.
There are several types of mulch, the most common being bark or wood chips. This is considered organic mulch — mulch that will decompose over time. Some other examples of organic mulch include:
- grass clippings
- pine needles
There are also several synthetic or inorganic mulches — mulch that does not decompose. Examples of synthetic mulch are:
- rubber chips
- landscape paper
- garbage bags, or plastic sheets
- gravel or stone — Inorganic
What do they all have in common?
They keep the weeds out and retain moisture–they make your beds look nice and well-manicured.
What are the differences between organic and synthetic/inorganic?
Organic mulch decomposes, therefore it helps with the soil’s fertility. The more you use bark chips, grass, pine needles, etc, the more it enriches your soil. You will not get these benefits from synthetic mulch like plastic sheets. Even though it keeps the weeds away, it won’t allow water in either, which goes against the idea of using mulch in the first place.
The mulch most people closely associate with, bark or wood chip mulch, comes in different colors, and from different trees. Hardwoods and softwoods, such as Cedar, are made into bark or wood chip mulch. It comes in colors of red, black, and natural.
What mulch do I use?
Many moons ago, when I was just moving into our home, and the backyard was just that– a backyard with nothing in it, I took my first stab at landscaping the one side of my fence. I went over to Lowe’s and picked out a mulch that didn’t make me recoil– sorry folks, but I really don’t like the bright red mulch that most people/places have. It drives me nuts!
I asked the guy to load up my then Honda Civic with 8 bags of natural cedar mulch, and he told me I picked the best mulch there was! Totally a crapshoot. I liked the natural color, and because it’s Cedar, and, as we all know, Cedar retains moisture quite well, so it was a lucky guess!
Do you mulch only in the Summer/Growing Season?
No, you can mulch in the fall, too! BUT you don’t have to buy any, just wait for your leaves to come down from the trees! Leaves, in my opinion, are the best mulch for the winter– it protects your plants from harsh weather, and when it decomposes, it leaves your soil full of wonderful nutrients.
How often do you mulch?
You don’t have to mulch every year. In fact its better if you did it every other, or maybe every couple of years. However, I have mulched all of my beds the last two years, only because I keep making more! Once you have beds established, you don’t need to mulch as much. Just get out the ole garden hoe and mix up your mulch with your soil.
So “mulch” to talk about, but I believe this information will do for now. This is what I have learned about mulch, and I hope you find it of interest for your gardens, too!