Does it matter what kind of mulch you use?

The composition of your mulch does matter. Here's why organic mulch breaks down in soil over time and adds nutrients.

Does it matter what kind of mulch you use?

The composition of your mulch does matter. Here's why organic mulch breaks down in soil over time and adds nutrients. But inorganic mulch does not dissolve, so the quality of the soil practically remains the same. Both types of mulch have their advantages, which can help you choose the right option.

These include hard and soft wood chips, bark, evergreen needles, leaves, grass clippings, compost mixes, newspapers and cardboard, and a variety of other plant by-products composed of materials that decay over time. If any of these substances are introduced into the soil, they can improve soil fertility, aeration, structure and drainage as they decompose. Because organic mulches break down, they need to be replaced regularly, but most landscape professionals prefer organic mulches because of the many benefits they bring to the soil. Various types of covering materials do not break down and therefore do not need to be replaced very often, if they ever do.

These options include rock, stone, lava rock, crushing dust, powdered rubber, garden fabrics, and other artificial materials. Inorganic mulches are ideal for decorative use and for controlling weeds. Because rocks and stones absorb and reflect heat, they have the advantage of heating the soil for fruit and vegetable planting in early spring, but can be harmful to plants during periods of hot, dry weather. Both the bark, chips and seeds of hard and soft wood, the by-products of the wood and paper industries, are often aged and dried, and sometimes even dyed red or black, and then sold in bags.

Hardwood works best around trees, shrubs, and on perennial beds, while softwood (usually made of pine) should be reserved for use around large trees and shrubs. Pine tends to be slightly more acidic and therefore takes longer to decompose than other organic mulches. Clean wheat, barley or oat straw is ideal for lightly covering freshly planted grass. Straw mulch prevents grass seeds from being washed, prevents birds and rodents from feeding and, until decomposed, conserves the moisture that seeds need for good germination.

When buying mulch, don't confuse straw with hay. You should avoid the latter, which contains seeds that could sprout like weeds in your garden. There's no need to go shopping, you can make your own organic mulch using nothing more than grass clippings or shredded leaves. Leaf mulch is ideal for use in garden beds and around trees and shrubs, while grass clippings can be spread in thin layers over vegetable and perennial beds and then turned into soil at the end of the growing season.

Be careful not to apply it in thick layers, otherwise the material will be damaged. Also, don't store grass clippings that have been treated with herbicides or insecticides. Gardening fabric is a better choice for long-term use, as it suppresses weeds but also allows air and water to pass through; however, it is a more expensive material. Gardening fabric is best used with a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips, on top.

Get information from the gardening experts at this Website about the types of mulch you should use and where to use it in the garden, along with other helpful tips on mulching flower beds and orchards. In the right environment, stone mulches (pebbles, gravel, or rocks) can be a good choice. They stay still and don't break. Smaller sizes, such as gravel and pebbles, can eventually sink into the ground and require retouching applications (this is where it's best to use gardening cloth, underneath stone mulches to prevent it from sinking).

Larger rock mulches can make it difficult to add plants and are difficult to move or remove if you change your mind. Stone mulches may be less effective in reducing soil water loss when used in sunny areas, as rocks keep soil warmer and increase evaporation. A damp mulch stacked against flower stalks and vegetables can cause them to rot; keep mulch an inch away from crowns and stems. Tree and Shrub Mulching When planting new trees or shrubs, a deep layer of mulch can help get these larger landscape features off to a good start.

However, if you want more color to accentuate the colors of your plants and flowers, buy custom colored organic mulches (like the red-tinted mulch shown above). Since garden mulch could influence that composition, it's understandable that there is concern about how mulch affects soil pH. . .

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