Mulch Types, Uses and Effects
The Best Garden Mulch
For Large To Small Home Gardens
Garden mulch protects the plant roots by stabilising temperature, retaining water and slow drying out, reduce weed growth, enhance soil ecosystem promoting microorganisms and can be used to improve the borders or gardens look or finish. To find out what’s right for you call 0115 824 1899 and ask for Dean.
Garden Mulch: All That You Need To Know
What is mulch used for? Well, mulch can be best defined as the layer of material (organic or inorganic) applied on the surface of the gardens top soil with the sole purpose of retaining moisture, reduce weed growth, retain soil warmth, or improve your garden’s soil fertility. If done properly, mulching can contribute to reducing watering and weeding frequency, as well as help fight pest infestations. One, however, needs to invest in good clean and the correct type of mulch to reap many of these benefits. Several factors, however, have to be considered before you can settle on a mulching material, whether for home gardens or allotments with varied vegetables grown. Or use a good landscaping company and they will advise on your soil type and what plants and mulch will work best for you.
Types of Garden Mulch
There are two distinctive types of mulch that one can use in a garden. These are:
1. Inorganic mulch 2. Organic mulch
As the name suggest, inorganic mulch is made of materials that don’t decompose. Stones, gravel, black plastic, and landscape fabrics are good examples of inorganic mulch. Organic mulch, on the other hand, is made of formally living materials that decompose easily over time. Sawdust, shredded bark, chopped leaves, grass clippings, straw, paper, and pine needles are examples of organic mulch. As mentioned earlier, the two types of mulch can be used for various purposes hence beneficial in one way or the other.
Pros and Cons of Organic Garden Mulch
The avid gardener will find organic mulch much more beneficial and advantageous as compared to inorganic mulch. Some of the main benefits of organic mulch include:
1. Organic mulch is readily and easily available to buy: Compost yard waste, leaves, grass clippings, bark clippings, leaves, etc. can be found almost everywhere. All you need is some time to collect these, or simply visit a local store for some.
2. Mulching: improves soil structure and fertility: Most of the organic materials used for mulching decompose over time releasing nutrients back into the soil. This can be quite beneficial for the long-term gardener who prefers organic foods and fruits. Aside from improving soil fertility, organic mulch supports the growth of microorganisms required to enrich the soil. Earthworms, for example, help aerate the soil and can only service under organic mulch.
3. Minimises soil erosion while retaining just enough moisture: The cover provided by organic mulch reduces splash erosion significantly. In the case of a heavy downpour, much of the excess moisture or water can evaporate back into the air. This, however, isn’t the case with inorganic compost which contributes to soil leaching indirectly.
4. Provides a natural nitrogen boost: In addition to reducing nutrient competition by inhibiting weed growth, grass clippings, wheat straws, etc. enrich the soil by releasing nitrogen over time. Nitrogen is one of the essential nutrients needed for healthy plant growth and root development. Using grass clippings to mulch, therefore, reduces the need for fertiliser hence good for your pockets.
The Cons 1. High combustibility: Most organic mulch materials are highly combustible. Experts advise against using grass mulch on wildfire prone areas.
5. It may introduce weeds: There’s a very high likelihood that your grass clippings, shredded leaves, or even wheat straws have viable seeds in them. This increases the risk of introducing weeds to your garden.
Pros and Cons of Inorganic Mulch
Inorganic mulch comes in handy in temperate and high-temperature regions. Black plastic, for instance, reduces evaporation rates by up to 90%. Some of the pros/benefits of inorganic mulch are outlined below.
1. No risk of introducing weeds: If you want total elimination of weeds, then inorganic mulch will best favour your style of garden. This is because the material is purely man-made.
2. Rock/pebbles come in handy in rock gardens: If looking for the perfect mulch for your rock or flower garden, then small stone pebbles will come in handy.
3. Higher moisture retention: Black plastic mulch reduces evaporation significantly hence recommended in high-temperature areas.
The Garden Mulch Cons
1. Most inorganic materials are harmful to plants: Coloured mulch releases toxins that can be detrimental to plant growth, hence not recommended for vegetable and fruit gardens.
2. They reflect heat: Black plastic and light-colored mulch reflect sunlight and heat, which can be harmful to plants. The reflected sun rays can lead to retardant plant growth, or even cause rotting.
Choosing the Right Type of Garden Mulch
Although some people combine both organic and inorganic mulch, going for the right mulch for your garden can improve the harvest significantly. Some of the things to have in mind when choosing a mulching material are outlined below.
1. The Type Of Crop; The kind of plant in the garden can help determine the best type of mulching material to go for. For instance, heat-loving plants such as eggplant, cucumber, melons, tomatoes, pepper, and chillies thrive pretty well in plastic mulch. Plastic raises soil temperature thus helping the plant develop/grow healthily. You, however, have to figure out a way to ensure there’s adequate moisture in the soil to support the plant growth through maturity. Cool-weather plants such as greens and broccoli, however, do not need warm soil, hence can thrive well in organic mulch such as shredded leaves, grass clippings, and straw.
2. Current Weather Condition; The current weather condition should be considered before applying just any mulch. Plastic mulches aren’t recommended in hot climatic conditions for they cause a ‘baking’ effect on the roots. Consider organic mulch such as grass clippings, coffee husks, or shredded leaves in this type of weather. For cooler temperatures, consider plastic mulch for it will help raise soil temperature.
3. Soil Type; Your garden’s soil type is another factor to consider before applying mulch. Although the ground may seem loamy, it could have more clay composition as compared to sand. Has the soil been tested to determine its pH and type so you use the right type of mulch on the beds or borders? The organic top dressing is mostly recommended for sandy soil that does not retain moisture efficiently. Plastic mulch can, however, be used in moisture-retentive soil, though sparingly as it may encourage enhanced microbial growth. Using grass or other types of mulch that retain water/moisture would be disastrous in clay soils.
Although mulching can be quite beneficial in your garden, it can certainly deprive the soil some of the essential nutrients such as nitrogen. To be on the safe side, consider applying nitrogen fertiliser beneath the mulch. You can also plant leguminous plants in the garden to help increase nitrogen supply through their nodules. The facts and tips outlined above should, however, help you choose the best type of garden mulch for optimal results.
At Topsoil Nottingham we specialise in a quality screened rich in nutrients topsoil and garden mulch for domestic or commercial delivery anywhere in the county of Nottinghamshire by the next day. And as a trusted local topsoil supplier we benefit our customers with a seven-day delivery service for loose or bulk bags of building and garden material. Just call Dean on 0115 824 1899.