Organic mulch is the most common variety of mulch. Organic mulches originate from living materials. They can consist of herbs, leaves, straw, crushed bark, pine needles, or compost. Organic mulches help condition the soil, even inviting worms to aerate the soil naturally and helping to reduce soil compaction.
Organic mulches are often by-products of other industries, while inorganic mulches are made from non-natural or artificial materials. While the two types are at opposite ends of the spectrum, each has been used for aesthetic reasons and has its own advantages. Organic mulches are made from natural materials such as leaves, tree bark, grass clippings and pine needles. As organic mulch breaks down, it changes the structure and texture of the soil and gives it a lasting nutrient boost.
A layer of organic mulch is like a picnic for plants. Organic mulch is a material that is applied to the surface of the garden soil to protect plantations and improve soil structure. Mulch is considered organic if it is made from material that was formerly living plant matter. Examples of organic mulch include shredded leaves, compost, and crushed corn cobs.
In general, organic mulch provides more benefits to plants, but inorganic mulch doesn't necessarily harm plants either. You can apply mulch any time of the year, but it's more beneficial to spread it around root areas in mid-spring, as the soil warms up and the growing season begins. When trying to decide which mulch to use, it's best to see what type of mulch aligns with your gardening goals. When it comes to protecting soil, mulch is all the rage, but choosing between organic and inorganic mulch can be quite a difficult decision.
Because organic mulch breaks down, you should replace it annually or every few years, depending on the covering material. While rocks, gravel, and black plastic mulches can heat plants (sometimes to lethal levels), organic mulches will keep the soil warm in winter and cool in summer. Organic mulch creates nutrient-rich soil that helps plants thrive, while inorganic mulch can last longer. Organic mulch protects plant roots and infuses nutrients into the soil, while inorganic mulch prevents weed growth and can give your home great curb appeal.
While inorganic mulch won't add nutrients to the soil, it won't temporarily deplete nitrogen levels like fresh wood mulch does. The best time to mulch is in early spring, before the weeds have germinated and most plants are inactive, although you can apply mulch at any time to soil that isn't frozen. Plastic and cloth mulches are generally used to prevent weed growth, while stone mulches give grass an elegant touch. Compost is a nutrient-rich mulch, but it works best as a thin layer around plants that can be covered with a different mulch.
While inorganic mulch doesn't provide any nutritional benefit to the soil like organic mulch does, there are other benefits to its use. Organic mulches, such as straw and grass clippings, can contain weed seeds, which is frustrating for homeowners who applied mulch to remove weeds. Inorganic mulches don't add nutrients to the soil, but they protect it from weeds and last longer than organic mulches.