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Garden Mulching Types, Techniques, and Ideas

Garden mulching types, techniques, and ideas

Today, let us discuss the topic of garden mulching types, techniques, and advantages. Mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of the soil. Mulch in the garden is usually, but not exclusively, organic in nature. It may be permanent for example plastic sheeting or temporary example, bark chips. It can be applied to bare soil or around existing plants. Mulches of manure or compost will be incorporated naturally into the soil by the action of worms and other organisms. The procedure is used both in commercial crop production and in gardening, and when applied correctly, can dramatically develop soil productivity.

Many materials are applied as mulches, which are used to retain soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, suppress weed growth, and for aesthetics. They are applied to the soil surface, around trees, paths, flower beds, to check soil erosion on slopes, and in production areas for flower and vegetable crops.

Garden Mulching Benefits:

Mulching is a must if you want a healthy garden, weed-free garden (either vegetable or flower), plus it makes the garden look tidier. Certain types of mulch act as organic pest control so your hard work won’t be destroyed by creepy, crawly varmints.

For those who wonder if mulching is another term for composting, it is not. Mulching differs from composting in their function. Whereas composting is to enhance the soil and create it more fertile, mulching is to protect the soil from losing its nutrients.

Regulates Soil Temperature

Mulch prevents moisture evaporation from the soil and helps keep even soil moisture and temperature throughout the growing season. Plants need less water when mulch is applied to the soil, so that means less usage of a natural resource and less work for you.

Stops Weed Growth

A 2 to 4-inch layer of mulch prevents weeds from growing in the garden. The sunshine can’t enter through to the soil so the weed seeds can’t germinate, thus eliminating the competition for moisture and food with garden plants and weeds. 

Soil Amendments

As the organic mulch decomposes it adds nutrients to the soil to give food for developing plants. The decomposing matter improves soil structure, improves drainage and helps prevent soil compaction.

Organic Pest Control

Mulch acts as an insect and disease trap, trapping and killing pests before they reach tender garden plants. Certain wood mulches, like wood bark and ashes from a wood heater, also perform as an organic pest deterrent while improving the overall health of the garden.

Organic Mulch

Tree bark mulch can be purchased in different shades of color to match the garden decor, but it’s not necessary to spend money on mulch. Grass clippings, nut hulls, pine straw, leaves, compost, well-rotted manure and shredded newspaper all are superb forms of free organic mulch. Some landfills offer free wood chips and compost if you’re willing to load and haul it manually.

Inorganic Mulch

Inorganic items can be used to keep weeds from taking over the garden. Plastic sheeting, roofing paper, shingles or any item that you can have left over from a building project can be used. Inorganic mulch is not the best option since it will not decompose and improve soil structure, but it will serve the purpose.

Read: How To Grow Microgreens Indoors.

Different types of garden mulching:

Mulches are obtainable in many forms. The two main types of garden mulch are inorganic and organic. Inorganic mulches include various types of stone, lava rock, geotextile fabrics, and other materials. Inorganic mulches do not decompose and do not want to be replenished often. On the other hand, they do not develop soil structure, add organic materials, or provide nutrients. For these reasons, most horticulturists and arborists desire organic mulches. Different garden mulch ideas are given below;


Use compost as mulch. Basically spread it around the garden, applying it up to 40mm deep. Compost has great evaporation control and is excellent for adding humus to the soil. It is more expensive than other forms of mulch, however, this is a huge option if you have a compost bin and only have a small area to mulch.

Pea straw:

Pea straw mulch is perfect for roses, flowers, vegetable gardens, trees, shrubs, and fruit trees. This kind of mulch stimulates growth and insulates roots from weather extremes. It does break down quickly and will want to be topped up on a regular basis. It is very high in nitrogen, so pea straw mulch is ideal for poor soils. Pea straw is normally sold in bales, is easy to handle and transport.

Sugar cane mulch:

Sugar cane mulch is ready from dried sugar cane leaves and tops and is sold in bales. It is less expensive than other mulches, simple to handle and more readily available. This type of sugar cane mulch breaks down quickly, encourages soil organisms and is excellent for vegetable gardens. Top it up frequently.

Barks and wood chips:

These types of mulches take longer to break down so it’s more economical, as you don’t have to apply it as often. Barks and chips are best used around recognized plants like shrubs and trees where immediate soil improvement is not required. Wood-based mulch can cause nitrogen deficiency, which causes plant leaves to turn a yellow color. This can be overcome by adding blood and bone, which adds additional nitrogen to the soil.

Mulch Material.
Mulch Material.
Hay or Straw:

A 6 to 8-inch layer of hay or straw provides excellent annual weed control. These materials decompose quickly and should be replenished to keep down weeds. They stay in place and will develop the soil as they decay. Avoid hay or straw that is full of weed seed and brambles. Fresh legume hay, such as alfalfa, supplies nitrogen as it rapidly breaks down. Hay and straw are readily obtainable in rural areas, but city dwellers may not be able to obtain hay easily.

Read: Homemade Liquid Fertilizers.

Lawn cuttings:

Lawn cuttings are a classic basis for mulch. If you use them, be sure not to spread them too thickly, as they may heat up while they break down (creating a mini-compost pile). They help maintain weeds down pretty good.

Pebbles and gravels:

If you want to go long-lasting mulch, pebbles and gravels work well. These include products such as scoria, gravel, and stone river pebbles. This kind of mulch is best suited to succulents and Mediterranean-type plants like lavender. It won’t develop the soil structure, but it will help reduce soil evaporation.

How to apply Mulch:

There are two cardinal systems for using mulch to combat weeds. First, lay the mulch down on soil that is previously weeded, and second, lay down a thick enough layer to discourage new weeds from coming up through it. Is mulch good for plants? Mulch may make a garden look tidy, but the work it does to develop the growing conditions for plants is what makes it most appealing. Those layers of bark or pine straw improve soil texture, suppress weeds, and conserve water.

It can take a 4 to 6-inch layer of mulch to totally discourage weeds, although a 2- to 3-inch layer is usually enough in shady spots. If you recognize that a garden bed is filled with weed seeds or perennial roots, you can use a double-mulching technique to prevent a weed explosion. Set plants in place, water them well, then extend newspaper and top it with mulch.

Mulches that retain moisture (like wood chips) can slow soil warming. In spring, pull mulch away from perennials and bulbs for quicker growth. Wet mulch piled against the stems of flowers and vegetables can origin them to rot; keep mulch about one inch away from the crowns and stems.

Mulch piled up against woody stems of shrubs and trees can cause rot and encourages rodents (such as voles and mice) to nest there. Maintain deep mulch pulled back about 6 to 12 inches from trunks.

Using mulch in the vegetable garden has become a popular and almost necessary item. The process of mulch is given below;

Water the Soil for Garden Mulching: 

It is important to water your soil prior to mulching. Dry soil and mulch combined can really prevent water from soaking into the ground. Use a garden hose and allow the water to soak into the soil 6 to 8 inches.

Remove Weeds: 

Remove existing weeds from the region you plan on mulching with a trowel, weeding tool or by hand. Be sure to get all of the plants, with the roots, out of the ground.

Add Mulch: 

After deciding what type of mulch you want to use, layer it on your beds about 2 to 4 inches deep. It must be thick enough to block light and keep weeds from sprouting. Be careful to maintain the mulch away from the crown of plants, as it could potentially kill them.

Replenish Mulch: 

Organic mulches break down gradually over time. Replenish when just a thin coating remains. By adding mulch, you are improving soil and reducing the need to water and pull weeds. If you use rubber or stone mulch, just check its condition each period to see if it needs replenishing, replacement or rearrangement.

Tips for Using Garden Mulch:

  • Maintain mulch at least an inch away from plant stems to avoid rot and fungus problems.
  • Leave at least half grass clippings on the lawn. They are a very important source of nutrients.
  • Clippings used as garden mulch must be sun-dried for a day or so. Do not use clippings from lawns pleasure with herbicides or toxic pest controls.
  • Use leaves that age at least nine months. These allow the growth-inhibiting phenols to be leached out.
  • Safe plastic mulch with Earth Staples. Cover the whole row before planting, and then cut planting holes as needed. You can cut the plastic in half lengthwise, and snuggle it up near the plants from each side.
  • Beneath the mulch, apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Organic mulch particularly leaves and wheat straw can rob the soil of nitrogen as it is decomposing.

Picking Mulch for Your Garden:

Two basic kinds of mulches are organic and inorganic. Organic mulches contain formerly living material such as chopped leaves, straw, grass clippings, wood chips, shredded bark, sawdust, pine needles, compost, and even paper. Inorganic mulches contain black plastic and geotextiles (landscape fabrics).

Both types discourage weeds, but organic mulches improve the soil as they decompose. Inorganic mulches don’t break down and develop the soil, but under certain circumstances, they’re the mulch of choice. For example, black plastic warms the soil and radiates heat through the night, keeping heat-loving vegetables such as eggplant and cherry tomatoes cozy and vigorous.

Before and After Mulch Care:

Mulch offers great benefits to both soil and plants such as weed control and moisture retention.

The following before and aftercare measures listed will maximize the use and benefits mulch provides:

Before application

Flowerbeds must be weeded prior to mulching and edges defined.

Water your flowerbed prior to relating mulch to lock in moisture.

If receiving a blower truck application:

Sprinkler heads and small, delicate plants must be flagged or covered with a pail. Decorative items must be removed from the garden beds.

Please ensure house windows are closed as fine dust can occur during the application process.

For health and safety reasons, please maintain pets inside or on a leash during the application. Your yard must be clear of any pet feces.

After application:

Mulch must not be pushed against plant or tree stems. Please ensure you leave a 2 to 3 inch (7-10 cm) clearance and 6 inches (15 cm) for large trees.

Water all mulched areas using a rain gauge in your beds until one inch (25 mm) level has been obtained. Watering will lock the mulch in place and help the finer section settle to the bottom for maximum weed control. Periodically monitor the soil below the mulch for moisture levels. The soil must feel damp, not soaked.

In the summer, if high winds are expected, give mulch a good soaking to help it stay in place. Protect mulch from blowing away in dry winters by moving some snow onto the area. In the spring renew mulch and its initial color by giving it a light rake. In the fall, the mulch can be turned with a shovel to position the fallen leaves under.

As your mulch naturally breaks down, it provides the soil with added nutrients.  It will also require to be topped up to maintain a 2 to 3 inch (7-10 cm) layer every 3 to 5 years. In humid areas, it is probable for mold to appear. Mold does not pose any danger to people, pets or plants. It can be restricted by applying baking soda onto the affected areas.

That’s all folks about Garden Mulching Ideas. Keep Gardening!.

Read: Argan Oil Extraction Methods.


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