What are the different types of mulch for landscaping?

June 4, 2014 at 12:49 pm

mulchMulch can add to your landscaping efforts by going directly on top of existing soil and providing an array of benefits. Properly applied, mulch can help to conserve moisture, enhance the fecundity and general health of your soil, limit the growth of weeds and greatly improve the aesthetics of your outdoor garden.

Organic Vs. Non-Organic 

As a general rule of thumb, the more organic the mulch the more acceptable it is to work the mulch into the surrounding soil. If the mulch is made of poorly-composted or synthetic materials, then it’s best to keep the mulch above the soil. You can still achieve the moisture-retaining and weed-deterring effects of mulch from organic or synthetic sources, it’s just best to keep non-organic sources feathered on top of your soil.

Temporary Versus Permanent Mulch 

Adding mulch to your garden can be a temporary or permanent setup. If you’re using basic bark chips then your mulch is probably temporary, and if you’re using DIY plastic sheeting then your mulch setup is likely to withstand the test of time.

Bark Chips Vs. Wood Chips 

That being said, bark chips are known to outperform wood chips in almost every category in terms of providing the right nitrogen balance as a mulch. As long as you layer the bark chips onto the top layer of soil, rather than putting bark chips at or below soil level, you should have a favorable ratio between carbon and nitrogen. Bark chips are great because they cover and protect the plant’s roots against fluctuating ambient temperatures. This ensures that your entire garden flourishes.

Advantages of Pebble Mulch 

Pebble mulch is an excellent way to ensure your garden doesn’t flood during heavy rains. This is because pebble mulch does a better job that concrete at channeling water where it’s supposed to go and guaranteeing it doesn’t build up in your garden over time. That said, a pebble mulch could still flood if not maintained with a trench barrier.

Issues with Pebble Mulch and Gravel 

Be sure to put pebble mulch in a sunlit area to take advantage of the heat. Pebble mulch retains some heat from the sun during the day and slowly expels that heat during the night, which could pay dividends for your growing efforts. The second thing to bear in mind with pebble mulch is that you need to be careful to avoid vacuuming it up and sending it ricocheting in all directions with a lawn mower.

Clippings of Grass 

Since grass clippings are clearly organic, they can be massaged into the surrounding soil to act as a mulch and benefit your garden. You will probably want to use grass clippings when they’re at their ripeness and fully green. Why? Because when grass is a vibrant green it is chock full of nitrogen and an assortment of other nutrients. When these are placed near soil, the roots of your plants just soak up the benefits.

Compost as Mulch 

Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed over time and recycled as a useable fertilizer. If you know that the soil in your garden happens to be especially alkaline – according to the traditional PH scale – then compost would be a great choice. Compost tends to be acidic in nature, which can help balance out the PH in your garden for delivery of the right kind of nutrients to your plants and vegetables.