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How to Choose the Right Mulch for a Trees and Gardens

Mulch plays a vital role in promoting and maintaining the health of plants, shrubs, and trees. Covering the soil surrounding the plants with mulch protects the roots from external temperature. These materials also help the soil to retain water and protect it from evaporation. The water or moisture is available to roots for longer than the plants with no mulch.

However, there are many varieties of products available in stores. It is challenging for landscape owners without prior knowledge to choose the right type of compost material for their plants. The mulch you choose depends on a variety of factors and requirements. Let us explore some ways to choose the right type of mulch for trees.

There are two basic types-–organic and inorganic. Let us first check out these two broad categories before going to the subcategories.

Organic Mulches

These are made up of organic material like wood chips, evergreen needles, grass clippings, tree bark, compost mix, and other plant byproducts. They consist of materials that decay and deteriorate with time. You can use any of these materials as material to improve the fertility of the soil, aeration, and drainage.

Because organic material decomposes with time, it requires replenishment, but most landscapers prefer organic mulch types due to their numerous benefits for the soil.

Inorganic Mulches

As the name suggests, these are made up of inorganic materials, such as lava rock, stone, crusher dust, and landscape fabrics. Inorganic mulches are suitable for weed control and decorative purposes. As rocks, stones absorb and reflect heat; they help in keeping the soil warm for early spring planting. However, rock and stone mulches can be detrimental for plants and shrubs in the hot and dry climate.

Now, as you understand the organic and inorganic mulches, let us know about their subcategories of these mulches. First, let us check the organic types of mulches.  

Organic OR inorganic mulch?

The most used and available organic mulches are made up of wood pulp, bark, or leaves. They add nutrients to the soil, and they decompose with time. So, you need to reapply the mulch to your soil after a specific time.

Inorganic mulch types are formed from rubber, stone, or rocks that do not decompose quickly. Although they don’t add nutrients to the soil, they offer many of the benefits of organic mulch.

Weed Prevention required

Almost every type of mulch offers resistance to weeds, but gardeners can do many other things to prevent growth. Adding newspapers under the regular mulch can help prevent weeds. Using newsprint helps reduce the use of more traditional mulch and is generally better for weeding than just mulch.

Garden fabric and plastic can also be used under a traditional product to prevent the growth of weeds in gardens. However, leaves, grass, and dirt can come in contact with the fabric or plastic and decompose, leaving a place for weed growth.

Consider appearance and maintenance

The function of any mulch is more important than its appearance. Shredded leaves make organic ground coverings and are easily available. However, many people find them unpleasant, so they should not be used in formal gardens. Stone coverings can be useful and attractive in many gardens. But you must first clean it of other debris frequently to keep them looking organized.

Landscapers need to know the difference in seasonal vegetation cover. While there is no such thing as perfect mulch, landscapers must understand that there are different varieties suitable for the summer and winter seasons. The reason for different mulches is that the climatic conditions like temperature, moisture, and soil condition changes with seasons.

Winter ground covers are used primarily as insulation for woody plants. Gardeners lay down these products in late fall to keep the soil uniformly cool throughout the winter. Straw, shredded leaves, and pine needles are effective winter coverings.

Summer or vegetation cover is usually applied after the soil begins to warm up in the spring. The main functions of summer mulches are to heat the soil, reduce the growth of weeds, and retain soil moisture.

Mulch for vegetables and fruit gardens

Black plastic and straw mulch offer protection to the roots of vegetable plants and fruit trees. Although they don’t offer many nutrients for them, they offer the best protection to roots against extreme temperatures.

Shrub beds and trees

If you have shrubs and trees in your landscape, you can use wood chips, pine needles, or bark chunks. These are organic types and helps retain moisture in the soil. Also, they have some nutrients essential for the growth of trees and shrubs.

Annual and Perennial Beds

Fine ground coverings like wood shavings, buckwheat hulls, bark granules, and cocoa shells are best for use in annual and perennial beds. These are organic materials and supply nutrients to the roots of annual and perennial plants. Moreover, they retain moisture in the soil and protect the roots from external weather conditions.

mulch for flowers

Rock gardens

If you have a rock garden with plants like cactus and other desert plants, you can use fine gravel and crushed stone as they enhance the aesthetics of your garden. The low water requirements of these gardens make these materials suitable for them.

Look locally. Find a highly reputed store for mulch and other landscape supplies with knowledgable staff. The company offers a wide variety of landscaping products like sand, limestone blocks, slabs, mulch, cracker dust, etc. They have a store in Kelmscott where you can visit and buy products for your landscape. In case you cannot visit their store, you can check their products on their website.

The Bottom Line: The correct mulch can be a gardening game changer!

The material you should use depends on the type of soil, plants, and climatic conditions of your location. If the soil is already fertile and climatic conditions are normal, you can use inorganic mulches. In case the soil is deprived of nutrients, you should use organic mulch and suitable fertilizers in your landscape. Now, as you know about how to choose mulch for your trees, you can guide others to choose the right product for their landscape.

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