When we think of mulch, we often overlook the benefits it provides and instead think of how it will make our landscape look. To help you build an understanding of the purpose mulch serves, we’ve created this guide to answer any questions you might have as you choose the right type of mulch for your project.
What is Mulch?
Mulch has been used for centuries as a means to protect and preserve flower beds and gardens. It is placed on top of soil and can be organic or inorganic. Organic mulches are natural and will decompose in time. During decomposition, organic mulch provides nutrients to the soil beneath it. Inorganic mulch will last much longer and can prevent the growth of weeds but it does not provide nutrients. There are several different types of mulch to choose from, but none can do it all so you must choose the one that will best fit the needs of your landscape.
Types of Organic Mulch
- Bark Mulch – wood chips can serve solely as ornamental but they are also great for perennial flower beds and around trees or shrubs. Pine wood chips are more acidic and will be beneficial for plants that need that acidity.
- Compost Mulch – nutrient-packed compost can be used as a booster to give plants a constant supply of nitrogen and carbon which can optimize their growth. It can also be used alone as mulch. Compost decomposes rather fast so you will need to add more routinely.
- Shredded Leaves Mulch – As a way to get rid of excessive leaves use them as mulch— they’ll attract earthworms that will consume them. We suggest using this only in areas that might not be used or seen as often as it certainly does not add curb appeal.
- Lawn Clippings – Useful in suppressing weeds but not eye catching and can put off an odor, prohibit water from getting to the roots of the plants, and conform together if too much is used. This is another that we wouldn’t suggest to use everywhere.
- Straw Mulch – One layer of straw helps the ground absorb and contain moisture, it can prevent weeds from growing but it does not provide any nutrition.
Types of Inorganic Mulch
- Landscape Fabric – In places where your soil does not need fertilized, landscape fabric prevents weeds from growing but it can also keep water and other nutrients from passing through.
- Stones – Assists with water drainage and heat retention.
- Rubber Mulch – Rubber is non-porous, water is able to pass through the mulch without being absorb. It also serves as a weed barrier and has the ability to last longer but can be more expensive that other types of mulch.
Benefits of Mulch
- Improves the look of your landscape
- Retains moisture
- Controls the growth of weeds
- Keeps soil from eroding
- Provides nutrients to the soil and/or maintains them
- Protects your plants’ roots
- Keeps pests and insects out
- Attracts earthworms
- Repels fleas, ticks, and gnats (cedar, pine, and cypress wood chips)
- Protect your plants from extreme temperatures
To optimize the benefits of mulch, consider using the type that is best suited to your garden or landscape…
- Flower Beds – Bark or stone is your best bet for your flower bed as they look good and add to the curb appeal of your home.
- Vegetable Gardens – We suggest using compost as it adds nutrients to your soil which will keep your crops healthy and yield more produce.
- Lawns – Using your lawn clippings after you mow to scatter sparingly throughout your lawn will help put nutrients back into your grass and soil. We would not advise doing this if your lawn contains an abundance of weeds as you’ll essentially just be spreading them about your lawn.
- Walkways – Choosing something that is flatter and won’t stick to your shoes is best for around walkways such as pine needles, straw, leaves, or compost. Straw reflect sunlight and helps maintain the temperature of the ground. Leaves are easy to find and you might already have them on hand which is cost-effective.
- Mulch In Layers – To help maintain the flow of oxygen and keep plants from rotting, put your mulch down in layers between one and three inches deep.
- Allow Some Space – Allow space between the base of plants and trees to keep them from becoming infected with a disease and/or rotting.
- Water It – If you decide to use wood or bark mulch, water it thoroughly immediately after laying it down.
- Add Some Nitrogen – Add a source of nitrogen to the soil prior to installing your wood mulch
Presentable Landscaping can install and maintain your mulch throughout the year.
Contact us (859-640-0657) for a free consultation!
About Presentable Landscaping
Presentable Landscaping provides many landscaping services to our customers in Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati.
- Clean ups
- Pruning / Trimming
- Paver Patios
- Retaining Walls
- Leaf Removal
- Gutter Cleaning