how to landscape with mulch
Mulching your flowerbeds and around trees is an easy low maintenance way to freshen up your outdoor living space, and homeowners can DIY a landscaping project like this on the weekend without breaking too much of the bank or a sweat, and upping their curb appeal.
What is mulching?
Mulching is the action of covering the ground (usually around trees, and in flower beds around plants and flowers, in front of retaining walls and walkways ) with a layer of loose material. Mulch can serve as decoration, controlling weed growth, maintaining moisture levels, moderating temperatures, and can even add nutrients to the soil. It is great for an outdoor living space makeover, and freshens up your garden design.
While most people look at mulch as being an organic material, there are actually two types of mulch, organic and inorganic blends.
Organic mulch is composed of natural material, and are the materials that will provide your soil with nutrients, and will eventually break down and need to be replaced.
Examples of organic mulch
- Shredded leaves
- Shredded wood chips
- Shredded bark chips
Inorganic mulches are manmade material or stone, and are mostly used for decorative purpose or to prevent weeds from growing.
Examples of inorganic mulch
- Shredded rubber
- Black plastic
While mulch improved the aesthetic look of any outdoor space, there are other benefits that each type can provide to ones outdoor space.
Mulch can help soil from getting too hot, which can help plants that are sensitive to heat grow. In areas where the weather is colder, mulch can protect against the thaw cycle that can damage plants and flowers. Some mulch is better than others for certain climates, so be sure to do your research before spreading mulch in your flower beds.
Mulch prevents weed seeds that are in the soil from being exposed to sun, which help weeds germinate. A layer of mulch that is at least 1 inch deep will usually supress weeds.
Adding nutrients to the soil
Organic mulch decomposes, and adds important nutrients to your soil. A thick layer of organic mulch encourages worms to loosen and aerate the soil, and the nutritional value of compost improves the texture of the soil.
What type of mulch should I use?
There are lots of factors to consider when using mulch on your yard. Are you wanting to add mulch to enhance the look of your space, or is it to add nutrients to your soil?
Let’s break down mulch options
Wood chips and bark mulch
These types of mulch come in black, red or brown, and do a good job insulating the soil in both the summer and winter months. It is easy to apply this type of mulch, and water and oxygen is able to move freely into the soil with this material.
Black plastic mulch
The look of black plastic mulch is quite poor, and not recommended for any whose sole purpose of mulching is to update the look of their yard. This mulch does not provide the soil with nourishment or aeration, and does not allow water and oxygen to move freely into the soil. Most homeowners use this material because of its ease of use, and the fact that it will not need to be replaced every year, unlike wood chips and bark mulch.
Stone mulch is very aesthetically pleasing and looks great where succulents and trees are planted. While leaves and other material will get caught in between the stones, this mulch will only need to be replaced, or need topping up every couple of years. This mulch is inorganic, and will provide no benefit to your soil.
Composted leaves are a great option for homeowners on a cheap budget, that are looking to provide nourishment to their soil, and do not care what the appearance of the mulch looks like.
If you are wanting to improve your soil, and are okay with replacing material every year, then organic mulch is for you. If your mulch’s purpose is strictly for looks, go for an inorganic material that requires less maintenance.