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What is Mulch?

Mulch is any loose material placed over the soil to control weeds and conserve soil moisture. Mulch is usually a coarse organic matter, such as leaves, clippings or bark. Mulch can also be composed of plastic sheeting and other commercial products.

Types of Mulch

Organic Mulch are mulches that used to be living material, such as bark, straw, leaves, grass clippings and pine needles. Organic mulches improve the soil by adding nutrients as they decompose and encouraging earthworm activity. Organic mulches attract insects, slugs, cutworms and the birds that eat them. They decompose over time and need to be replaced after several years. In very moist climates, organic mulches may hold too much moisture and encourage the proliferation of rodents. The excessive moisture will also encourage slugs and snails. If the stems of your plants come into contact with moist organic mulch, the stems of your plants may rot.

Inorganic mulch is made from man-made materials that do not decompose or decomposes very slowly. It works well and rarely needs replacing. Inorganic mulch is made from recycled rubber, plastic, brick, stone, landscape fabric, Inorganic mulch does not release nutrients to the the soil.


Where to use Mulch

Mulch can be used almost anywhere. However, mulch is more useful around tree trunks and around the soil of new plants.

Mulching is a very important step in growing a healthy plant. Mulch helps to conserve moisture in the root ball of the new plant until the roots have grown out into the surrounding soil. Mulch also helps to prevent tree trunk injury by mowers and trimmers. Newly planted trees require a circle of mulch 3 to 4 feet in diameter. Maintain this for five years. Mulch entire beds of shrubs, trees, annuals, herbaceous perennials and ground covers.

Light-weight mulch such as dried grass clippings and pine straw can be used as a temporarily cover for low-growing during the winter season.

Benefits of Mulch

  • Mulching your flower and vegetable beds will drastically reduce the amount of time spent weeding, watering and fighting pests.
  • Mulches prevent loss of water from the soil by evaporation.
  • Mulch reduce the growth of weeds.
  • Mulch maintains a more even soil temperature by keeping the soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  • Mulches prevent soil splashing, which stops erosion and keeps soil-borne diseases from splashing up onto the plants.
  • Organic mulches can improve the soil structure and add nutrients to the soil.
  • Mulches improve the absorption and movement of water into the soil.
  • Mulches prevent the trunks of trees and shrubs from damage by lawn equipment.
  • Mulches help prevent soil compaction.
  • Mulched plants have more roots than plants that are not mulched, because mulched plants will produce additional roots in the mulch that surrounds them.

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