Mulching Benefits Organic And Inorganic Mulch Types

Mulching is​ the practice of​ placing a​ loose surface onto the surface of​ soil in​ your​ flower or​ vegetable garden in​ order to​ protect, insulate and​ beautify the area. this​ loose covering is​ called a​ mulch and​ it​ can be either of​ an​ organic or​ inorganic variety. Examples of​ mulches include compost, stone and​ grass clippings. Every gardener should understand​ the many benefits of​ mulching the soil in​ their garden. this​ article will discuss the benefits of​ mulching, how to​ choose the correct mulch and​ have a​ quick look at​ some of​ the different types of​ organic and​ inorganic mulches available.

Benefits of​ Mulching

Let us explore some benefits of​ mulching:

* Prevents soil erosion​ - Soil erosion​ happens when winds or​ water slowly wear away the surface of​ soil and​ remove it. Mulching your​ soil will prevent this​ as​ there is​ now a​ protective, replaceable layer.that comes between the surface of​ the soil and​ the forces of​ nature above it.

* Insulates the soil in​ winter - The harsh temperatures of​ winter can be unkind. Mulching the soil in​ winter will insulate the soil preventing it​ from repeated patterns of​ freezing and​ thawing and​ will insulate plant roots. it​ prevents heaving (buckling upward) of​ soil in​ spring. Mulch should be applied to​ the soil when it​ has frozen and​ removed in​ spring only when there is​ no danger of​ further frosts. Winter-mulched soil thaws out more quickly in​ the spring.

* Cools down soil in​ summer - a​ layer of​ mulch in​ summer protects the soil beneath from the extreme heats of​ summer and​ reduces the need for​ constant watering i.e. water retention​ is​ improved.

* Helps against soil compaction​ - The layer of​ mulch acts as​ a​ buffer or​ extra layer between entities that can cause compaction​ on​ the soil below e.g. people, equipment, heavy rains.

* Improves appearance - a​ mulch applied to​ your​ bed can make it​ look more complete and​ attractive. this​ varies from mulch to​ mulch as​ some are more attractive and​ natural looking than others.

* Prevents weed growth - One of​ the more useful benefits of​ mulching is​ in​ weed prevention. While the mulch itself will not stop weeds from germinating it​ serves to​ act as​ a​ barrier between the weeds and​ the outside world above. When a​ weed reaches the mulch layer it​ will not be able to​ break above it​ and​ it​ will eventually die back. Some mulches perform this​ weed prevention​ feature better than others. Depth of​ mulch is​ also a​ contributing factor. Care should be taken however when selecting mulches as​ some mulches like grass clippings and​ straw may actually contain​ weed seeds.

* Keeps fruit and​ vegetables clean - a​ layer of​ mulch reduces the chances of​ fruit and​ vegetables getting dirty from splashes from the soil below.

Choosing the Correct Mulch for​ your​ Garden

Careful thought should be given when choosing a​ mulch to​ apply to​ your​ garden as​ each is​ different and​ should fit in​ with your​ exact requirements. Here are some common​ factors that should be considered:

* Soil pH suitability - Some mulches like bark mulch and​ pine needle mulch can affect the pH value of​ soil so they are best used on​ soils containing acid-loving plants.

* Removal in​ spring - Certain​ mulches need to​ be removed in​ spring because they can smother emerging plants. Examples include stone mulch and​ bark chips.

* Cost - is​ cost a​ limiting factor in​ your​ choice of​ mulches? if​ so you​ can find your​ mulch for​ free if​ you​ choose certain​ types. if​ you​ keep a​ compost heap then you​ will have compost for​ mulching. Other free mulches (if​ you​ have the sources) are pine needles and​ grass clippings.

* Appearance - Do you​ care about how the bed will look when the mulch is​ applied? Each mulch adds a​ different look and​ depending on​ the design of​ your​ garden you​ may want to​ choose a​ mulch that matches it​ in​ colour and​ texture.

* Penetration​ by water and​ air - Some mulches are better at​ allowing water and​ air to​ pass through them than others. this​ may be important depending on​ a​ plant's watering requirements.

* Addition​ of​ nutrients to​ the soil - Organic mulches add nutrients back into the soil when they decompose. The nutrient types and​ their amounts added back into the soil depend on​ the mulch and​ it​ varies quite a​ bit. Using compost as​ a​ mulch guarantees plenty of​ nutrients for​ your​ plants.

Some Types of​ Organic Mulch

this​ type of​ mulch once used to​ be living material and​ as​ such will decompose over time. During their decomposition​ vital nutrients will be added back into your​ soil. However you​ may want to​ avoid using organic mulches if​ you​ have rodent problems. Some common​ organic mulches are:

* Compost - Mulches and​ feeds the soils as​ it​ decomposes. this​ mulch is​ free if​ you​ have access to​ your​ own compost heap. Apply at​ a​ depth of​ 1 - 3 inches.

* Pine Needles - Commonly used with acid soils. Cheap, looks great and​ allows water to​ pass through freely to​ the soil below. it​ decomposes quite slowly however. Apply to​ a​ depth of​ 1 - 1.5 inches

* Straw - Provides great insulation, water penetration​ and​ weed control. Care should be taken that straw does not contain​ weed seeds itself. Apply to​ a​ depth of​ 6 - 8 inches.

* Grass Clippings - Readily available and​ decomposes quite quickly adding nitrogen back into the soil. Try not to​ apply too fresh as​ it​ can heat up quite a​ bit and​ possibly cause damage to​ your​ plants. Apply to​ a​ depth of​ 1 inch.

* Newspaper - Provides great weed control and​ is​ readily available. Apply another mulch on​ top to​ keep it​ in​ place. Apply in​ 2 layer sections.

Some Types of​ Inorganic Mulch

Inorganic mulches are inert materials that have not originated from living material. Sometimes inorganic and​ organic mulches are used in​ conjunction​ with one another. for​ example a​ geotextile (inorganic mulch) may be covered and​ held in​ place by bark chips (organic mulch). Some common​ inorganic mulches are:

* Stone - Looks great and​ provides great insulation. if​ removal in​ spring is​ a​ factor in​ your​ choice of​ mulch avoid using stone. Degrades very, very slowly. Apply to​ a​ depth of​ 2 - 4 inches.

* Plastic - Does not decompose so it​ does not add anything into the soil. Acts as​ a​ great weed control and​ is​ easily laid. Must be perforated to​ allow water to​ pass through. Apply in​ a​ thickness of​ 1 - 6 mm.

* Geotextile - Expensive blanket-like synthetic fiber that provides great weed control and​ allows for​ water penetration. Almost always used in​ conjunction​ with a​ cover mulch (e.g. bark chips). Apply in​ a​ single layer.


in​ this​ article we looked at​ the many benefits of​ mulching and​ the different types available. Maybe take the time today to​ decide which mulch to​ use in​ your​ garden if​ you​ have not mulched in​ the past. you​ may be surprised at​ how cheap the process can be if​ you​ use mulches such as​ compost from your​ compost heap, grass clippings from your​ lawn cuttings and/or the Sunday newspapers! Happy mulching.

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