The questions of whether to use mulch, how often to use it and which mulching material is best can be complex. This is why many inexperienced gardeners choose to skip it entirely. But did you know that proper mulching is vital to creating a lush, healthy garden in any climate? Mulch not only protects against the weather, it also enriches the soil and reduces weeds and pests. This simple guide to garden and landscaping mulches will help you create the garden paradise of your dreams.
Mulch serves a variety of beneficial purposes in all kinds of gardens, including both flower gardens and vegetable gardens. Thus, it is important to mulch frequently. Before the growing season begins, apply a generous layer of mulch to allow your soil to retain heat. Early mulching can help you seed or transplant early, thereby boosting both growth and yield in the long run. However, consult a gardening book to be certain you are not mulching too early, as excessively cool, damp conditions can rot your seeds and seedlings.
Add an additional layer of mulch from time to time to keep it at a steady level, especially if weather conditions wash away the top of your mulch layer. If you are growing plants into the fall and early winter, apply another generous layer of mulch to help your soil retain its warmth and resist freezing.
There is a wide range of mulch types available, and it is essential to select the correct one to suit your garden's specific needs. Homemade mulch – made with grass or yard clippings, dead leaves or even compost – costs nothing and is easy to apply. It pays to learn effective composting techniques, as they make for a particularly nutritious mulch.
Mulch mats are another handy option; these coverings are usually made of rubber and provide the benefits of mulch without any fuss.
However, if you have a large garden, are growing specialty plants or want to achieve a certain look, you may need commercial mulch. Fortunately, mulch delivery is often available, which makes the process much simpler because there is no need for lifting or hauling. The most popular varieties of commercial mulches are: