The time for growth, i.e., spring, is a revival for your garden. It is time to give your soil the best feed to initiate growth. Mulch is a great solution for gardeners who are tired of weeding or watering their plants all the time, losing them to hot summers and freezing winters.
Over soil and around plants, mulch holds moisture in the soil and suppresses weed growth while acting as a barrier to winds and direct sunlight. The people interested in gardening want to know, “why use mulch?” The following article will help you understand the benefits of mulch in detail.
What Is Mulch?
Mulch is a material that can be applied to the soil’s surface to conserve moisture, improve fertility and health within soils, reduce weed growth while enhancing its visual appeal.
- It is the best way to keep your plants healthy and weed-free.
- It locks up moisture in the soil while acting as a physical barrier against direct sunlight or drying.
- It can be organic.
- It can be a permanent or temporary layer.
- Mulch may also contain nutrients that act as slow-release plant food.
Why Use Mulch?
As you know, mulch is a – to 4-inch layer of material applied to a bare area or soil to initiate growth; let’s look at all its benefits:
1. Keep Soil Healthy
Mulch can be used to keep soil healthy by preventing it from harmful conditions. It also provides nutrients, beneficial micro-organisms to your soil (if organic).
2. Suppress Weeds
Mulch helps to prevent weed seeds from germinating and competing with your plants for nutrients.
3. Give Shade
Mulch provides a layer of protection and shades delicate seedlings from harsh sunlight. It acts as an umbrella for new plantings, protecting them from being burned by the sun.
4. Initiate Growth
Mulching also promotes healthy roots because it slows down or stops nutrient loss..
5. Cure Water Log
Mulch improves soil conditions by making the surface more resistant to water absorption. It binds sandy soils to hold moisture better and opens up clay soil (as it is already compact).
6. Prevents Frost Damage
Mulching is an easy way to protect plants from frost damage by acting like a protective ‘blanket.’
7. Improves Soil Structure
It also helps improve soil structure by adding nutrients necessary for plant growth and drainage.
8. Improves Drainage
Mulch is also water-conserving and prevents soil from drying out. It will greatly reduce the need to watering your garden, which means you save money on utility costs.
9. Maintains Soil Temperature
A thick layer of mulch will keep the soil warm through cool spring nights, keeping it at an optimal temperature for growing plants. It also helps to avoid root growth problems in the summer months when temperatures are hot and dry. In simple words, it acts as a soil insulator.
10. Prevents Soil Compaction/Erosion
Mulching can prevent erosion and soil compaction. The benefits are particularly noticeable on pathways with much foot traffic that makes the soil compact.
11. Make the Garden Bed Attractive
Mulching is a great way to add beauty and improve soil health in your garden. It covers bare soil and gives an appealing look to your garden.
Types Of Mulch
After knowing the benefits of mulch, it’s time to determine which type is right for your garden. Let’s have a look at few organic types.
1. Organic Mulch
Organic mulch is a type of mulch made from organic sources, i.e., agricultural wastes. It decomposes naturally, providing beneficial nutrients to the soil improving the soil’s structure.
Organic mulches like leaves or straw are great alternatives for traditional chemical-laden ones that can harm plants by limiting their access to sunlight. Few examples of organic mulch are:
- Bark – best used around trees, shrubs, and in the areas where you won’t be doing a lot of digging.
- Grass Clippings – best suited to remote areas of the garden, prevents waterlogging.
- Straw and Hay – Good for the vegetable garden, keep the soil diseases from splashing up on the lower plant leaves.
2. Inorganic Mulch
Inorganic mulches consist of synthetic, manufactured materials that cannot decompose or break down in time. It makes replacement costs much lower than with organic ones–and they’re perfect for keeping your garden looking fresh year-round.
- Stone – Preferred for formal landscapes for its attractive looks, used with woody plants or with plants that are accustomed to extreme heat
- Plastic – Sheets of black plastic are preferred for growing crops. Black plastic is treated with UV-resisting chemicals. The film remains warm and dry – protecting fruits like strawberries, melons, or cucumbers from rotting in wet weather when they would normally rot.
- Landscape Fabric – Good quality landscape fabric can effectively control weeds while also allowing air, water, and nutrients into the soil.
- Rubber Mulch – The rubber mulch is made from recycled tires. It helps retain soil moisture in some cases. It comes in different colors for an interesting look and is more durable for playgrounds.
Points To Consider While Applying Mulch
- Apply a 2–3-inch layer of mulch as a heavy layer will rot the plants.
- The best time to mulch is in late spring and early fall.
- Be aware of patches of bare ground that should remain mulch-free throughout your garden to provide open spaces for beneficial insects that require loose soil to thrive.
- If you cover the mulch with plastic or weed cloth, you will kill the beneficial bacteria in your soil. Such a layer also prevents the natural cycling of nutrients that plants rely on.
- It is best to cover bare soil with mulch (especially underneath trees).
Mulch can serve many functions for the garden, from increasing aesthetics all year round or maintaining healthy plants through increased organic matter content. The article revolves around “Why Use Mulch” and concludes:
- Mulch conserves moisture, provides an insulating effect to the soil, reduces the growth of weeds, and enhances the beauty of the landscape.
- You should consider the right type of mulch and the adequate quantity to apply.
We hope this article helped you find out how to use mulch in your garden and that you enjoyed it. Feel free to share any feedback you might have with us and comment on any questions!