Mulch - How to Be Sure the Mulch You Buy Is a Good Quality
For those of us who are new to gardening/landscaping mulch serves as a protective cover or barrier of natural and/or organic matter.
Mulch helps retain moisture, prevent freezing or other damage to a plants root and controls the growth of weeds.
It is important to notate that mulch does not stop insects from ruining plants, eradicate plant diseases or stop the growth of weeds if present when mulch is laid.
Although many brands are labeled as "weed-free", the mulch will need to be applied properly which will prevent the weed seeds that are embedded in the soil from germinating.
There are two basic types of mulch; organic and inorganic.
Organic mulch originates from plant materials whereas inorganic mulch while similar to organic mulch is composed of a variety of materials such as recycled glass and plastic.
Organic mulch offers a temporary solution to more appealing landscaping and flower beds, aids in the absorption of water, provides insulation and prevents flooding as a result of weather related conditions.
Organic mulch due to its physical material makeup allows a natural decomposition that occurs during its lifespan.
During the decomposition phase, the micro-organisms that make up the chemical components of mulch release a sticky crumb-like substance that enhances the soil.
Dependent upon the components that make up the particular type of mulch you are using, the pH of your soil may rise or fall which can potentially be hazardous.
If composed of plant materials, your mulch will add essential nutrients to your soil while it decomposes.
If composed of materials such as wood chips, leaves, sawdust, straw, bark etc, when the mulch decomposes, nitrogen levels back drop and supplements will need to be added.
Be cautious of having consistently wet organic mulch as mold, bacteria and fungus can grow on the mulch and within the soil.
One common fix is to flip the pieces of mulch to allow adequate ventilation and drying between waterings.
Inorganic mulch can consist of plastic, river rock, brick, colored stones, fabric rolls and gravel.
Some of the benefits of using inorganic mulch are retaining moisture to keep your soil and roots moist, slow evaporation process, maintaining even soil temperature, preventing soil erosion and the reduction in pesticides and herbicides.
Inorganic mulch is longer lasting than organic mulches which presents a more appealing finish to landscaping and flower beds.
Organic mulches do a better job of preventing weeds from surfacing and allows for a better exchange of water and air.
Due to inorganic mulch properties, you will find that many materials used to create various forms of mulch are prone to small holes or cracks that allow weeds to grow through.
Depending upon the type of inorganic mulch used, every 1-3 years you will need to replace it.
Inorganic mulch will settle into the soil or other foundations throughout its lifetime which is one of the more common reasons that lead to replacement.
Landscaping is much more than picking out different types of plants, shrubbery, or trees.
Landscaping involves an architectural process that examines placement, materials to be used as well as sustainability.
Consider consulting a mulch or landscaping professional to determine what is best suited for the vision you would like to see achieved in your space.