Mulch is made up of a variety of materials and provides several functions.
It is practical for encouraging beneficial soil organisms, protecting roots from high temperatures, deterring pests; improve the quality of soil texture, and suppressing weeds.
What are the type types of mulch?
Mulch is split into two specific categories: non-biodegradable and biodegradable.
Non-biodegradable mulch isn’t able to improve the structure or fertility of the soil, but it can help with providing a decorative finish, conserving moisture, and suppressing weeds. Common types include aggregates like stone chippings, gravel, pebbles, shingle, and slate. Plus, the lighter materials like tumbled glass, sea shells, and crushed CDs are practical for using in pots and containers.
Biodegradable mulch has a further benefit of being able to slowly breakdown and release helpful nutrients into the flower bed or vegetable patch. This is certain to help improve the all-round quality and structure of the soil. It is necessary to replace the biodegradable mulch as and when it starts to break down. Some of the most attractive materials include seaweed, straw, well-rotted manure, processed conifer bark, wood chippings, mushroom compost, garden compost, and leaf mold.
A further type of mulch material is the woven or sheet landscape fabrics which are a practical option for borders and beds. These sheets can be punctured with holes to make it possible to continue planting flowers in these areas. A negative aspect of the fabrics is the unattractive look which is usually concealed with the help of bark, gravel, or similar material. Also, to ensure moisture is able to seep through the fabric it benefits to use a permeable sheet.
When to apply mulch
The preferred time to apply the mulch material to the garden beds is late spring or early autumn. It usually helps to wait until the garden soil is able to naturally warm up. Also, the mulch can be applied to the garden when planting fresh specimens or beds.
How to apply mulch
Mulch is easy to apply to the garden and can cover the entire surface of the borders and beds. But, care should be taken to avoid smothering the groundcover plants or similar low-growth species. Also, avoid pouring a lot of the mulch material around the stems of woody plants.
A preferred depth for the biodegradable mulch is in the region of 2-3 inches. A thick covering is the most effective and ensures the mulch material gives the most benefits. Before applying the mulch it benefits to firstly remove all signs of weeds.
Issues with mulch
If applied in the correct manner, there shouldn’t be any issues with using the different mulch materials in the market. Although, it is essential to avoid piling too much mulch at the stems of trees as this can leave them weak and result in disease.
Also, a low-quality mulch material can lead to certain diseases, pests, and weeds in the garden. A further concern with woodchips is the small chance of bringing honey fungus into the garden. This is one of my favorite websites for DIY & gardening tips and a great mulching resource. https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-mulch-your-flower-beds/