The right mulch works wonders for your garden or landscape, reducing the need for regular maintenance and improving the health of plants. Far from being a visual improvement, mulch can breathe life into plants and soil and prevent their untimely death at the hands of weather and weeds. Mulches vary in quality and benefits, so some prior research will help get the most out of mulching.
While mulch adds some color and texture to the garden as it covers bare soil, it also protects the soil. The cover reduces water evaporation from the soil and can absorb extra water from rain or sprinklers. In addition, it shelters plant roots from temperature extremes and hampers the growth of weeds. Altogether, this means less time spent watering and weeding, and less worry about losing your garden to sudden disaster.
Fresh mulch, typically wood chips and bark, will be long lasting before it decomposes, but sometimes you want it to decompose. In doing so, it returns nutrients to the soil and fosters healthy plant growth. If you’re mulching just for appearance and weed control, fresh mulch is fine, but aged mulch in smaller grades or other organic materials can better nourish the landscape.
Gravel or other small stones can be classified as mulch as well. As it does not decompose, it is longer lasting still – though washing lighter-colored stones may be desirable – but is not the ideal environment for growing plants. However, stone mulch can be a pleasing accent to the landscape, and also has functional value in preventing water runoff from washing away the soil.
Many landscaping services can handle mulching, both supplying the mulch and spreading it through garden and landscape beds as needed. This can improve on, or supplement, compost and other gathered mulches, and saves you the trouble of hauling loads of mulch from a home improvement store or a wood chipping plant. The investment will be more than worth it in the long run.