|Mulching is a must—as many gardeners have discovered. Not only is mulching around your flower beds and plants attractive from a landscaping point of view, it is excellent for you plants. Mulching will retain moisture for your plants, it will shield them from the sun, it will cool them in warm seasons and keep them insulated in winter. Mulch is also used to control weed growth. The following article discusses the different types of organic and inorganic mulches.
Organic mulches originate from materials that are natural in composition. Because of this, they are able to break down into nutrients that will eventually enrich the soil. Organic mulches are not permanent, but most gardeners prefer them because they are attractive and improve the soil structure. As the organic mulch decomposes, it releases nitrogen into the soil which is used by plant life as well as the beneficial bacteria who perform the work of decomposition.
Bark chips or shredded bark is very common for organic mulching. Prized for its natural look, bark chips generally require a period of three to four years to decompose. This is rather longer than most other organic mulches. Shredded bark may be employed as an alternative for a speedier decomposition process. In any case, bark can be used for trees, flowerbeds, shrubs and vegetables. In order to control weed growth effectively, be sure to spread the bark about three inches deep.
Buckwheat hulls are sometimes applied as a mulch for their attractive appearance and dark brown color. It will work within any area of the garden or landscape. In a windy setting, they will need to be wet down in order to stay in place. Usually two inches in depth for the hulls is all that is necessary.
When used when they are still fresh, cocoa shell mulch smells like chocolate. This very attractive and pleasant smelling mulch will work in any spot in the garden. It is particularly beneficial to rose beds. Like buckwheat hulls, it is very light so it will need to be wet down.
Straw is most generally used as a mulch for the vegetable garden but it can actually be used elsewhere in the garden too. As it is flammable when dry, it is best not used near a grill or smoker. Straw is often considered a second-rate mulch and seldom used from season to season. However, its relative inexpensiveness and practicality make it a staple mulch.
Finally, wood chips are a prime organic mulch that are excellent weed-controllers. Best suited for trees and shrubs, wood chips may take up to six-years to decompose making them one of the longest lasters in the mulch world. Best to use aged chips (fresh could actually damage your plants) and place them about three inches deep.
Inorganic mulches may be a long-lasting enhancement for your garden as they do not decompose. Although they do not provide a natural appearance and get dirty over time, gardeners often employ them nonetheless.
Weed control mat is actually a woven fiberglass matting sold in rolls and sometimes sheet. Its color varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. It is an excellent choice for temperature control. It is often placed on a flower bed with holes cut out for the plants. If the look bothers you, an organic mulch may be placed atop this.
Weed mat is usually a porous sheet made from both plastic and inorganic fibers that vary in color. Biodegradable alternatives are also available. This great cover will allow moisture to pass through but keep weeds from sprouting up so it is a popular choice for inorganic mulch. The downside is that it is usually more expensive than other mulches.
Black polyethylene sheeting is usually used for vegetable gardening. It is not chosen for other areas of the garden. Its color makes from speedy seed germination that is often the reason it is used. It is sold in various ranges of thickness and is particularly good for young plants that require warm soil.
Finally, stone mulches may be pebbles, stone chips or crushed rock. It is commercially available in different sizes as well as such colors as brown, pink, yellow and gray. Stone mulch is prized by ultra-low-maintenance gardeners and landscapers. It does not rot or decompose. It is a deterrent for weeds and colonizing insects. While it is not organic, many like the pleasing contrast it provides with the plants. It should be used as most other mulches. Stone mulch is generally available in granite, limestone, river gravel, volcanic rock and most expensively, marble.