Much Ado About Mulch: Uses, Varieties, and More
Mulch is a Landscaping Powerhouse
We’re willing to bet that you’ve encountered mulch in one form or another during your lifetime. From the playground to your garden planters, mulch plays a starring role in a number of our outdoor experiences; but many homeowners don’t really know why mulch is so ubiquitous. Besides creating an aesthetically pleasing outdoor space, why is mulch so frequently used in residential and commercial gardens and parks? The lawn equipment specialists at Gator Mower Parts are here to break it down for you.
What Makes Mulch so Useful?
As we briefly mentioned, mulch does indeed beautify your yard. Whether you choose a neutral tone or a mulch that provides a pop of color, mulch helps your garden and tree beds look neat and tidy. Take a look at your local garden or hardware store and you’ll probably find a great selection of mulch in a number of different materials and colors. Beyond looks, however, mulch is helpful in retaining moisture, keeping soil healthy, and preventing pest invasions.
Get the Most from Your Watering Sessions
We’ve certainly had a rainy summer here in Central Florida, so retaining moisture in your garden may not be at the top of your list of priorities right now. However, mulch is a great tool to help maintain healthy moisture levels at your plants’ roots year-round. Mulch creates a protective barrier between the soil and the sun, lowering exposure to direct heat and thus reducing water evaporation. According to Fix.com, plants that are allowed to retain moisture consistently produce higher yields.
Moisture retention is not only beneficial to your plants, it’s also environmentally friendly. With mulch helping your soil retain moisture, you’ll have to water less frequently. Keep in mind that you’ll want to select a “breathable” mulch that won’t allow mold and mildew to grow.
Reintroduce Nutrients to the Soil
Both organic and inorganic mulches are readily available to homeowners and landscaping professionals alike, and each variety has its own benefits. If you choose an organic mulch, like tree bark, pine needles, or grass, the natural process of decay helps to reintroduce nutrients to the soil surrounding your plants.
Organic mulches are often easy to obtain -- it can be as simple as collecting your grass clippings after you mow! Keep in mind, however, that different organic materials release different nutrients as they decay. For example, hardwood mulch is alkaline, and grass releases a good amount of nitrogen. Choose a mulch that works with your plants’ specific nutritional needs.
Deter Weeds and Pests
When mulch covers the top layer of your soil, it blocks sunlight from reaching any budding weeds that are trying to grow. It also helps prevent future weed seeds from taking root in the soil.
Mulch can also help keep garden pests away through the decay process that we described above. When your soil is chock-full of nutrients, it promotes the growth of healthy microbes and defensive insects that keep harmful pests away. However, there are some nasty bugs, like roaches, that feed on decaying organic matter, so choose your mulch carefully. It’s a good idea to use a variety of mulches in your yard in different areas, with inorganic mulch creating a protective barrier around the areas that are closest to your home.
What Types of Mulch Are There?
We mentioned before that there are two basic groups of mulches: organic and inorganic. Under those umbrellas, there are so many different varieties of mulch for you to choose from. You may find that different types of mulch are more beneficial for different areas of your garden!
There’s a wide variety of organic mulches that are readily available to use. Some farmers’ favorites include dead leaves, grass clippings, hay, and even pine needles. At your local garden center, you’re probably most familiar with cedar and pine bark, as well as wood chips.
Select an organic mulch for the nutritional benefits to your soil, as well as to encourage the growth of beneficial insects and microorganisms. Organic mulch is great as a soil topper around trees and in vegetable gardens.
You may be surprised to find the huge variety of inorganic mulches that are readily available for your use. One type of inorganic mulch that has been popular in recent years is rubber mulch, which is made from scraps of rubber tires. This is a great option for areas of higher traffic as it’s softer underfoot and won’t splinter. You can also find inorganic mulches that are made from stones and glass chips.
Focus on inorganic mulches in areas that you want visual appeal. Stones and rubber mulch are great for walking paths, areas around the perimeter of your home, and in standalone planters. Inorganic mulch is still great at retaining moisture and preventing weed growth, but be sure you select a mulch that won’t reflect heat and create hot spots in your garden.
Mulch Has Many Practical Uses
Organic or inorganic, mulch is a helpful tool in any garden. Here at Gator Mower Parts, we encourage you to mulch your grass clippings for the health of your lawn and garden beds instead of collecting them to throw away. Talk to your local landscaping experts for recommendations on which types of mulch to use in different areas of your lawn.
Lawn care is so much easier when you have quality tools to get the job done. To schedule a service appointment or to find out what we have in stock, contact Gator Mower Parts at 407-260-1292 today.