A useful and decorative item that's used in gardening and for landscape projects is mulch. There are various mulches available, so which do you choose? Read on for a helpful overview.
Why use mulch?
Mulch is used when landscaping for a number of reasons including:
- moisture retention in the soil
- creating pathways
- keeping weeds down
- control of soil erosion
- protecting tender plant roots from excesses of heat and cold
You can obtain most kinds of mulch from your local garden centre or specialist supplier.
Pebble mulch looks very nice when used to form a garden path, but you must place it in a trench so that it doesn't become dislodged and spread all over the place. You can also use pebble mulch to top planters and containers. It makes an attractive addition whilst allowing for good drainage and protecting bedding plant roots from excessive summer heat.
This type of mulch is useful for gardens in hot climates where tender plant roots benefit from heat protection during the day. Rock and slate retains the heat that it absorbs during the day, providing useful warmth for plants during cold desert nights.
Cardboard and old newspapers
Placing a mat of cardboard or old newspaper in your garden can be extremely effective at suppressing weeds. All you need to do is make a small 'X' shaped hole in the paper and plant your new plants through this. Alternatively, just spread the paper around your plants. Moisture is trapped beneath the layer of paper, keeping your soil hydrated and attracting worms, which are great for aerating and conditioning the soil. You can make this form of mulch more attractive by placing a layer of bark mulch on top of it. Eventually, cardboard and newspaper decomposes and is absorbed by the soil.
Landscape fabric mulch is usually a black material made from woven polypropylene. It's breathable, letting air and water in, whilst keeping sunlight out. This suppresses weeds but absorbs the sun's heat, providing overnight warmth to plants such as melons. Landscape fabric does fall apart over time, meaning that you will need to replace it.
Wood chip and bark
If you have trees on your land, you could use the loppings that are left over after the tree services contractor's visit to make mulch for your garden. Wood chips and shredded bark make an attractive and effective mulching medium, although they do degrade over time and you'll need to top up levels on a regular basis.
No matter what your requirements, you'll find a kind of mulch that is suitable for your needs. For more information and advice on mulches, have a chat with your local garden centre staff or your landscape contractor.