The Best Mulch: Why it’s so important
Picking the best mulch for the type of garden you have is one of the most important aspects of growing your plants the most successfully, but it is also a step that most ignore, or don’t even realize is important! Mulching is when you spread a surface of loosely-packed mulch on top of the soil in your garden. Picking the best mulch ensures that your flowers, vegetables, or whichever other plants you are growing are protected, insulated, and as healthy as possible. There are various types of different mulches such as compost, grass clippings, and even stone. Anybody with their own garden should know the various benefits that come with picking the best mulch for their plants, and why mulching itself is so beneficial.
Benefits of Mulching & Picking the Best Mulch
There are so many different benefits to mulching, and the few listed below are only touching the surface. After reading the list below, it’s easy to see how picking the best mulch is so imperative to the health and longevity of your plants.
- Mulching prevents soil from eroding: Erosion is an unavoidable force of nature; over time, the wind and water will slowly begin to wear down the soil’s surface. This erosion then causes the soil itself to wear away, leaving your seeds and plant’s roots with less and less coverage. By picking the best mulch and spreading it atop your soil bed, it will provide a buffer layer between the soil and the elements. The mulch is replaceable, and much less susceptible to rain and wind than the soil is, as long as you pick the best mulch.
- Keeps the soil at an even temperature: As one of our previous posts talks about more in detail, the winter can do a number on your seeds and garden with the constant freezing and thawing of the soil. When you add the best mulch for your garden as an insulator, it prevents this cycle of freezing and thawing that can kill your bulbs or other seeds. When the thawing and freezing of the soil is reduced, it prevents the bulbs from being pushed toward the surface, as they would usually be. Another benefit of picking the best mulch for your soil is that if you mulch your soil in the winter, the soil will thaw out quicker when spring comes along. Mulching your garden in the summer will also keep the soil cooler, reducing the need to water your plants as often.
- Prevents weeds from growing: Weed prevention in your garden is definitely one of the most beneficial effects of choosing the best mulch. The mulch is not a fertilizer, but it does act as a natural wall between the weeds and the visible part of your garden. Even if a weed does manage to work its way up to the soil, it won’t be able to break through the layer of mulch you’ve placed and will die without ever being seed (or sprayed with fertilized by you!). Some mulches are better at this than others, which is why it’s important to know what benefits you want when you’re picking the best mulch. For example, if you choose mulch such as grass clippings or straw, you should know that those mulches may actually contain weed seeds themselves.
Choosing the Best Mulch for Your Garden
Many different factors are involved in picking the best mulch for your garden, so it should be given long and careful thought when deciding. Some of the factors involved are below.
- Soil pH: The acidity of your mulch can affect the soil sometimes, so it’s important to know if your plants are suited for a higher acidity level. Bark mulch and pine needle are some of the mulches that have a higher pH level and therefore do affect the soil’s acidity, so knowing your plants can help you pick the best mulch.
- Spring Removal: Some mulches are not able to be used all year long. Stone mulch and bark chips should be removed when springtime rolls around, because they will smother the budding plants and keep them underground, instead of allowing them to bloom properly.
- Cost: While it doesn’t affect your garden directly, it is perhaps one of the most important things for you yourself to consider when deciding on the best mulch. Some types of mulch are free, such as pine needles and grass clippings, and if you have your own compost heap then you would be able to use that for mulching. Picking the best mulch is important, but you don’t want to go broke trying to protect your plants.
- Nutritional Benefits: Mulch can be split into either organic or non-organic, organic obviously having the nutritional impact on your plants. When the organic mulch decomposes, it adds nutrients right back into the soil. The types and amounts of the nutrients added also depends on the type of soil you chose. Compost has the most nutritional benefit for your garden, so this is a large factor when picking the best mulch.
Part 2 for this article is now available here!