Mulch is one of the less talked about components of a garden but let’s not forget that they are also an essential part of successful gardening. When it comes to gardening, I’ve always made sure that I don’t skip the step of including mulch for my plants to reap maximum benefit.
However, not everyone must’ve had the same experience, and you’re probably here because you searched, is mulch good for gardens? It is understandable as not many know the correct way of choosing or using mulch. Many people usually view mulch as a beautifying item for their gardens, but that is not the only plus point.
Is Mulch Good For Gardens?
1. Balanced Soil temperature
When you apply mulch to the top layer of the soil, it acts as a temperature regulator. During hot and cold seasons, it protects the soil from extreme heat and cold, keeping the temperature inside of the soil balanced. Mulch prevents the roots of the plants from dying, helping them thrive even in harsh weather conditions.
2. Holds Moisture
When you start using mulch, you will notice an instant change in the frequency and duration of watering. It helps the soil lose its moisture, protecting it from getting dried out due to wind and heat.
3. Visually Appealing
One of the most common reasons gardeners use mulch is to make their garden beds appear more visually appealing.
4. Holds the Soil in Place
If the top layer of the soil is not strong enough to stay in its place, chances are the topsoil will runoff when it rains. The topsoil usually runs off when the bottom of the soil is crusted and can’t support the topsoil. That is why mulch is used to protect the topsoil and prevent crusting of soil.
5. Stops Weed from Growing
Mulch stops weeds from growing by preventing light from entering the soil. It also eliminates the germination of weed seeds during changing seasons by stabilizing the soil temperature and moisture.
Disadvantages of Using Mulch
1. Using the Wrong Mulch
Using the wrong mulch will do no good for your plants. So before choosing random mulch, research on the different types of mulch and depending on the type of soil or plant you have and landscape, you can select the best fit.
2. Increased Snails and Other Pest
Unfortunately, when placed around the stems of plants, some mulch tends to attract snails, slugs, and other pests. Not all snails or pests are harmful to your plants, but if they are, make sure to eliminate them.
3. Over Using Mulch
Too much of anything is not good, and that goes the same while using mulch for plants. When we overuse mulch, the plants are at risk of suffocation, and this happens because the thick layer of mulch blocks oxygen and water from reaching the roots.
Know What Type of Mulch You Are Using
There are many types of mulch available, but not all do the same job. Some mulch boosts the growth of plants while others repel pests. So before you get mulch for your garden, make sure you’re getting the appropriate one.
Shredded leaves are one of the cheapest mulches you can get, or if you have trees around your house, you can make your mulch. Mulches made from leaves not only add aesthetic value but also decompose quickly.
Straw mulch is known to improve the soil. It is easy to use, and it comes in two forms, original and shredded versions. The only disadvantage when using this type of mulch is it gets blown away easily. Besides, that straw mulch is good for preventing weeds and locking moisture. When you get this type of mulch, make sure to get weed seed-free mulch.
Grass clippings are one of the readily available options like leaves. Plus, the Nitrogen present in grass clippings makes them an even better option to use as mulch. However, remember not to use grass that has been exposed to fertilizers and herbicides.
Plastic mulch is suitable for holding moisture and preventing weeds. It also helps keep the soil dry and warm, which is a plus point if you grow vining crops. If you plan to use this option, remember that since the soil is covered by plastic, natural rain won’t hydrate it well. So it would be best if you kept checking on your soil, or you could use options like lay soaker hoses.
Using paper as mulch is not pleasing to the eyes, but it is a biodegradable material, unlike plastic. We can also use papers as shredded paper and put them around shrubs or plants, providing nutrients and protection.
Stones are often used when planting cactus. If your plants or trees need extra heat, you can use stones as mulch. However, the drawback is that they are difficult to remove, and unless you have a lot of stones lying around, they are expensive.
Organic or inorganic mulch prevents weeds’ growth, but many gardeners usually prefer organic mulch. Why because? In the long run, organic mulches improve the soil as they break down. On the other hand, inorganic mulch doesn’t, but it still helps in protecting the soil.
Mulch is good as long as you choose the right mulch and follow the appropriate steps in using it to reap maximum benefit. If you still have any queries, then you can drop them in the comment box.
Make the Best Use of Mulch
Below are the steps that I’ve personally found helpful. You can start this step after choosing the mulch.
- The first thing you need to do is remove any unwanted weeds or materials from the soil and then cover the soil with the mulch.
- The mulch applied should be about four-inch to prevent future weeds.
- If you’re gardening under shade, then two-inch mulch will be enough.
Remember not to over-mulch it, or your hard work will backfire. If you put the right amount, then you’ll soon understand what good mulching is. You’ll notice that your plants need less water than usual, the soil and plants will also be noticeably healthy.
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