In this blog post we will discuss different types of mulch and their use, in addition to some common practices. We hope that after reading this article you will know more about mulching so you can make an informed decision next time you spruce up your home and garden!
What is Mulch?
Mulch is a general term for ground cover that can help retain water, prevent weed growth, and add organic matter to the soil. It can be broadly categorized into two different categories: organic and inorganic (see below).
The purpose of the mulch can determine the type we should look for. For example, if aesthetics is our primary concern, then all mulches are an option, and it comes down to our particular taste.
However, if you are looking for something to retain moisture, you should look at organic mulches.
Mulching is a great way to make your garden look neater and more inviting, but there’s much more to it than that. Just a few inches of organic mulch throughout your plants will provide benefits for the soil like conserving moisture, stabilizing temperature, reducing erosion, and suppressing weed growth by blocking out sunlight.
Types of Mulches
As we stated before, there are two general types of mulch: organic and inorganic.
There is a wide range of woods and materials used for mulching!
Organic mulches are often moss, pine needles, grass clippings, chippings from hardwood trees like oaks and maples, shredded leaves, bark chips, compost or wood mulch.
Here at Atlantic Mulch & Stone, we carry cypress, chocolate hardwood, and premium black wood mulches, in addition to pine straw.
Organic mulches aren’t as hardy and shouldn’t be used on the perimeter of your garden because they will decompose over time and provide nutrients for weed growth. They are a great option to use throughout the plants though!
If we’re talking inorganic material that can be used as mulch, we’re really just referring to anything that was never alive that can serve one or more of the functions of mulch that we described above.
So the list of possible inorganic mulches is very long and is likely only limited by our imaginations!
That being said, materials frequently used for inorganic mulch are gravel, plastic sheeting, landscape fabric, stone and synthetic mulches like ground rubber, glass, and plastic. We of course carry several types of gravel and stone for you to choose from, which you can find here.
Inorganic mulches made out of plastic sheeting can be used to cover the ground under an organic mulch layer or by itself in order to help keep weeds down between rows in gardens.
Pebbles and pea gravel will give your garden a natural look with few weed problems but are not as good at conserving moisture. They also don’t provide nutrients to the soil via break down like organic mulch.
Benefits of Using Mulch
The main difference between these materials is that inorganic mulches are much more effective at keeping the temperature moderate for the plants during hot summer months while organic mulches offer benefits to soil health.
But there’s also a tradeoff here: if you’re using an organic material as mulch all year round it will eventually break down and provide nutrients back into your garden beds, which could attract weeds to those areas.
Both types of mulch can affect the soil pH, but that’s outside the scope of this article.
If you want long term use of your groundcover without having to worry about weed growth, then go with an inorganic material.
However, since you have to cut a hole in the material or pack it around your plants, this can be more cumbersome and/or less effective in closely planted beds.
To recap, benefits of mulch include:
- reduces water evaporation from soil
- increases amount of water your soil can hold
- acts as thermal barrier for your soil, keeping it cooler in the summer
- provides nutrients to your soil
- reduces erosion
- some wood mulches, like cedar, pine, and cypress have pest repellant properties
- can provide a protective barrier from incidental damage by mowers and weed eaters
Bottom Line: Either type of mulch will be better for your landscape and garden than no mulch at all. So check out our products and decide which mulch is best for your home!
You can read more about mulch here