Mulch is a material of many talents.
Mulch adds much more than stylish curb appeal to your lawn. Sure, it’s a supermodel of lawn style, adding character and visual beauty to your property. Mulch is also a multi-beneficial nutrient for landscape beds, gardens and trees.
“Humble mulch is the quiet workhorse of the garden,” HomeDepot.com raves. “It helps plants by holding moisture in the soil and preventing erosion.”
Good Housekeeping calls mulch the “ultimate timesaver.”
But that’s just the beginning of mulch’s lawn and garden enriching powers.
What Is Mulch?
Mulch is a material that is spread around a plant or tree or over the soil surface as a protective layer. It is composed of organic and inorganic materials. The most common types of American mulch or wood chips or shredded leaves, grass clippings, compost, straw or hay, plastic mulch and landscape fabrics. America’s wood mulches of choice are pine bark, hardwood, wood chips and cedar.
Be sure to water your garden soil thoroughly before adding mulch.
From there, it will do almost all the work. Mulch requires little maintenance. A new coating of mulch (we recommend applying 1-2 inches for perennials and 2-3 inches for shrubs and trees) can suppress new weed germination and unwanted grass and weeds for several weeks and months.
A Material of Many Talents
As the Micro Gardener notes, Mulch’s rich, diverse benefits for your lawn and garden are 20-fold.
- Adds Organic Matter to Soil, making gardens healthier and more resistant to pests and diseases.
- Provides Valuable Slow-Release Nutrients, preventing vitamin loss in plants.
- Helps Retain Moisture in Soil Much Longer, preventing evaporation by shielding soil from the sun and reducing water run-off and the amount of water needed. This is very beneficial for young trees under the age of 5.
- Shades Vulnerable Seedlings from Too Much Sun.
- Cuts Time Spent Watering. Mulched soil can retain up to 70% more water than unmulched soil.
- Insulates Soil by Regulating Temperature
- Provides a Natural Barrier to Stop Weeds From Growing. This prevents weeds from competing with plants for sunlight.
- Increase Biological Activity in Soil.
- Improves Soil Condition
- Saves Time and Energy by Cultivating Soil
- Prevents Nutrients from Leaching Out of Soil
- Protects Plants from Frost Damage
- Provides a Clean Surface for Produce Like Fruits and Nuts
- Improves Soil Drainage and Structure as it Decomposes.
- Provides Support to Plants
- Recycles Waste Materials Like Grass Clippings and Leaves
- Protects from Mud-Splash During Watering or Rain
- Prevents Erosion and Soil Compaction from Foot Traffic on Pathways and Play Areas
- Improves Visual Appearance of Lawns and Gardens
- Provides a Home for Plant-Friendly Insects.
Mulch in Moderation
Just like any lawn supplement, you don’t want to overdue mulch. Applying too much mulch or mixing it in soil can cause difficulties with digging and weeding. Be sure to keep it at least six inches away from your home’s foundation to prevent it from becoming a pathway for termites and other pests to invade your home.
But by incorporating mulch smartly into your lawn and garden, it offers, HGTV’s Lori Johnston notes, “multiple decorative and practical benefits.”
For mulch is so much more than lawn and garden eye candy.
It’s an “incredible asset,” Homesteaders of America notes.