An essential addition to flower beds and vegetable gardens, mulch saves time, water and you can spend less time weeding. The right mulch will also help improve soil structure and plant growth. So lets’ get mulching.
What is the best Mulch
The question as to what is the best mulch is not an easy one to answer. It will depend on the purpose of the mulch and where you are using it.
Put forward as the gardeners best friend it is useful, but we think another friend is better. Let’s explain.
Used in gardening, both for the vegetable garden and the flower garden it has been around for many years. The practical purposes are to prevent soils from drying out through evaporation as well as to provide humus and organic matter to help improve the soil.
Organic types that break down are the most useful and indeed most very however many types of mulch including decorative garden mulch are now available for sale.
Why use mulch
The main reasons for using mulch are
- As a landscaping element – This includes the aesthetic value as well as the easy maintenance side of things. So we see decorative pebbles, coarse pine park, wood chips and even rubber used in thick layers. The main idea is for it to look good.
- To prevent water loss – A layer of mulch over the soil will help lower heat and evaporation, the soil does need to be damp first. This is one of the main reasons that gardeners use it. You will still need to water but not as much. And if you install dripper irrigation, even less.
- To stop weeds – The second major reason is that mulches are said to ‘smother weeds’, this is true to an extent, however you do need to weed the area first. A goo mulch can help prevent weeds by stopping self seeding, the seeds do not get the chance to settle into the soil and germinate, they lose their viability as they sit on the mulch.
- To improve soil structure
The third and one of the most important reasons is that most types of mulch break down and add valuable nutrients to the soil. Some are quicker than others and some are more beneficial than others. An added benefit is the creation of a cool moist zone that earthworms love. And the earthworms will do some digging for you, carrying the nutrients deeper into the soil.
So we think that earthworms are a gardeners best friend, mulch is the earthworms best friend. Put the two together and you have some mighty fine friends, a good soil structure and a happy garden.
What about using Black Plastic ?
If will suppress weeds and keep moist in, but will not let more moisture in, it can also heat the soil up. we know it is used for growing strawberries, but in the home garden, if you want plants to grow, forget it.
Do all plants like mulch ?
It does depend a little on the plant. No plants like mulch up against the stem or trunk. Especially the woody plants, this can cause rot.
Rhododendrons are a plant that prefer leaf litter or ‘leaf mold’ as a mulch, rather than coarse bark mulches.