Mulching is called a garden’s-best friend. Why? Because it helps the garden in every season, literally every season.
For instance, in summer when it’s very hot, mulch prevents the soil to lose moisture as well as it stops the weed to grow.
Some mulch also prevents snails to destroy your plant.
Meanwhile, in the winter it keeps the soil warm and of course, protects the plants from cold too.
What is Mulch?
Mulch is a layer of material applied on the soil surface for improving the soil fertility or health or for some other relevant purposes.
It can be compost, wood chips, rotted manure, cardboard, plastic sheets or even seaweed.
Why Mulch Your Garden?
Mulch has a countless number of benefits for your plants and soil. Sometimes it also enhances the visual appearance of the garden.
Many Benefits of Mulch Include:
• It makes the soil warm during winter.
• It prevents the weeds to grow.
• Mulch maintains the moisture level in the soil during summer.
• It helps the soil by improving the fertility and health.
• Lessen the chances of plants to get fungal diseases as green leaves can’t touch the ground because of the mulch.
• If the much is organic matter, it will convert into the compost.
• Some mulch becomes a great source of food for the healthy microorganism in our soil as well as some insects like worms.
Where mulching has so many benefits there it has some disadvantages too.
I am listing some of the disadvantages of mulching.
Disadvantages of Mulch:
• Mulching too much or should I say making a thick layer of mulch (a layer more than 3 inches) may lead the plant to suffocate.
• Mulch can be home to pests. Make sure to select the correct mulch meanwhile apply it correctly. You should also sprinkle wood ash around the base of the plant so it will keep the slugs and snails and other pests at bay.
Is Mulch Necessary?
The short answer is no, but it is this source of almost all the necessary nutrients that plant need the most.
The long answer is, if you want to keep your soil healthy, grow your plants healthy, optimise your soil, protect your soil and plants from daily life pollution then the mulch comes into the ground.
I kid you not but believe me I have done this mistake in the past many times. Mulch is so important factor if you want to become a smart gardener.
They say that the mulch is considered to be the smart gardener’s best friend as it prevents the annoying weeds the watering problem and much more.
Should You Mulch Your Garden?
Now, many of you have a question popping up in your mind that is mulch good for your garden?
Why not? I shared my experience and I don’t think you’ll still like to give a try to an experiment which has been done in the past, right?
Should We Mulch First or Plant First?
Good question! Now you are becoming a smart gardener.
According to me and some other smart gardeners over the world, mulching after planting is way better than planting after mulching.
The common reason is if you plant after mulching all the mulch will mix into the soil because of digging.
It’s not that the mulch would waste but you’ll give up the major benefits of the mulch. Including controlling weeds sometimes pests and controlling the moisture level in the soil۔
Mulch vs. Fertilizer vs. Compost:
Many people ask a question that what the difference between mulch, fertilizers and compost is.
They are so different from each other.
Long story short, compost is made up of the material that is decomposed or broken down.
Moreover, Compost includes all the things that can be broken down. It can be vegetables, fruits, meat, bones etc…
The components of mulch and compost are different.
Like you can mulch with plastic but you cannot make compost of plastic.
Furthermore, you cannot use vegetables and fruits in the mulch.
Fertilizers are of two types. Some are chemical-based and some are organic.
Organic fertilizers include different kinds of fertilizers which are made up of shredded bones, dried blood of animals.
Mulch and compost are commonly organic fertilizers. However, there are still some chemical-based compost and mulch available.
Chemical fertilizers are of many kinds. Some provide nitrogen to the plant, some potassium, Phosphorus, magnesium and so forth.
All of these 3 are somehow, somewhere connected to each other.
Different Types of Mulch:
1. Leaves: Using the crushed dried leaves is suitable for mulch. CAUTION: Using green leaves may cause fungus.
2. Grass Clippings: Dried grass is adequate for mulching. CAUTION: Using undried grass may cause fungus.
3. Wood Chips: These are tiny pieces of wood; produced by cutting the wood into pieces. They are very popular among all the other mulches.
4. Bark chips: As the name suggests, these are the chips that are produced as a result of shredding the tree bark.
5. Straw mulch: Straw mulch so-called field hay, salt hay. It is the peel of the grains such as rice, barley, wheat etc…
6. Pine straw: These are the needles that drop from the pine trees.
7. Biodegradable mulch: These are commonly made up of plant starches and sugars or polyester fibre. Basically, these are the mulches that are broken down by the micro-organism or the insects.
9. Black Polythene: Covering the ground with the help of black polythene can be quite helpful. NOTE: It is normally applied before planting.
10. Black Mulch: Black mulch is nothing but a dyed version of other mulches.
11. Red Mulch: (Same as black mulch)
12. Root mulch: As the name suggests, these are the mulches that made up of shredded, dried roots.
13. Animal Manure.
Note: Avoid using black walnut trees or leaves.
The Best Mulch For Your Garden:
Many of you must ask, OK, now we know what kind of mulches are there, we know all the cons and pros of mulches.
Which kind of mulch is the best for our garden?
Well, the answer is what kind of garden do you have, do you grow trees, do you grow vegetables, do you have a flower garden?
All have other preferences.
The Best Mulch For Your Flower Garden:
1. Straw Clippings
2. Grass Clippings
3. Shredded Leaves
4. Shredded Bark
5. Wood Chips
The Best Mulch For Your Vegetable Garden:
2. Grass Clippings
3. Shredded Leaves
4. Paper & Cardboard
5. Black Polythene
Note: Mulches for vegetable garden flower gardens are pretty much the same.
The Best Mulch For Your Trees & Shrubs Garden:
1. Bark mulch
2. Pine Straw
3. Animal Manure
4. Root Mulch
5. Biodegradable mulch
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Organic mulch vs. Inorganic Mulch:
Here is the difference between organic mulch and organic mulch.
Organic things are made by nature or from nature.
Whereas inorganic things are mostly made by chemicals.
In comparison, organic things are way better than inorganic things.
The main reason organic things are better than inorganic things is that organic things are eco friendly.
Meanwhile, inorganic things are not eco friendly which can be a cause in contributing to global warming.
This rule also applies to gardening.
Inorganic Mulch Includes:
Organic Mulch Includes:
• Straw Clippings
• Grass Clippings
• Shredded Leaves
• Shredded Bark
• Wood Chips
Fine Mulch vs Coarse Mulch:
Before you understand the difference between fine mulch and coarse mulch.
You need to know what these are.
What is Fine Mulch?
As the name suggests it is the miles which normally are very lightweight and the texture of this much is like a powder.
For instance, compost, shredded leaves etc…
What is Coarse Mulch?
This mulch is in the form of hard materials like wood chunks.
For instance, Pine bark nuggets etc…
Difference Between Coarse and Fine mulch:
Now let’s learn about the difference between fine mulch and coarse mulch.
Both are OK. But if your garden is in a windy place then it is applicable to apply coarse mulch.
Remember coarse mulch does not break down easily; it is a mulch that lasts for long.
If you want the mulch that breaks down in your soil quickly then prefer using fine much.
What is the Best Mulch to Prevent Weeds?
Well, is not a big deal.
Any type of mulch can prevent weeds if you apply it correctly.
Make sure to apply the mulch for no more than 3 inches or less than 3 inches.
Can You Put Mulch Over Weeds?
You can do this if you want but smart gardeners don’t recommend it.
According to them, it is better to remove all the weeds manually before applying the mulch.
When is the Best Time to Mulch Your Garden?
There is no specific time for mulching.
But the experts suggest starting mulching during fall followed by winter and then in early spring.
Because it is the time when the climate becomes colder and plants start to freeze.
So, mulch helps them to stay warm.
How often should you mulch your garden?
When you start seeing the signs of the mulch decomposition then understand that you need to re mulch your plants.
Where Can You Get Mulch?
• Cheapest and lengthiest way of getting mulch is by making your own mulch.
Collect the leaves of your plants and the grass. Let them dry then shred them into small pieces.
• Nursery or gardening shop.
• Collect newspapers.
How to Mulch Your Garden:
Now let’s come to the most important part which is the easiest.
I am sharing 4 steps that will help you a lot while mulching.
1. Put the mulch on the bed, landscape garden or whatever garden you have.
2. Spread it by using your hand.
3. Make sure that the thickness of mulch has reached 3 inches.
4. Keep the mulch away from the trunk of the trees and plants. It may rot the plant main stem.
5. You are all done!
Note: You don’t need your mulch to be more than 3 inches or less than 3 inches.
Now some questions that must be popping in your mind.
Should You Water Before or After Mulching?
It is not a pretty much big deal.
Before applying mulch if your soil is dry. Water it before applying mulch.
If it’s already moist then you don’t need to do anything. Just mulch.
Do You Need to Pull Weeds Before Mulching?
As I wrote before, it is better to remove all the weeds manually before applying the mulch.
Can You Put Mulch Over Dead Leaves?
I won’t recommend it. If you mean that the leaves are dried then there is no problem.
But if they are dead due to fungus then it is important to remove those leaves as soon as possible.
Or you will suffer from the fungal issues.
How to Lay Mulch Over Grass?
In my opinion, it is not recommended to lay mulch over grass.
So much so if you really want to mulch over grass then apply fine mulch instead of coarse mulch.
How deep should mulch be?
This is also discussed before.
3 inches is the ideal point for mulch depth. Bear in mind, prevent the mulch from touching the main stem or trunk of the plant/tree.
Do You Need to Remove the Old Mulch?
Absolutely not, you don’t need to remove old mulch so why would you waste your precious time and effort.
How to Replace Mulch?
Here at this point, we have started a cycle. When you see that your mulch is now decomposing, dig down to the soil.
You’re doing this because you want to know how much mulch do you have left?
Then according to that, add more new mulch.
For instance, If you have 1 inch of mulch left then you would add 2 inches of new mulch.
Do Mulch Cause Rot?
According to the UConn Home & Garden Education Center, if the mulch has contact with any part of plants, it may cause some rotting diseases.
Mulch is considered as the gardener’s best friend. It is a thing that provides almost all the necessary nutrients to the plant. If it is winter, it keeps your plants warm. If it’s summer, it maintains the moisture level. Fresh mulch has its own benefits and when it becomes old, you get compost out of it. Long story short, mulch is a thing that (almost) always provides benefits. From touching the ground till decomposing.
Organic mulch is eco-friendly and that is a very important factor for a gardener to succeed.
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me if you have more suggestions or if you find any problem while mulching.
The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent.
– Malcolm X
• The Impatient Farmer
• Fine Gardening
• UConn Home & Garden Education Center