A mulch is a protective layer of covering that is left on the surface of the ground for the purpose of protecting and insulating the soil, as well as improving the appearance of your garden. There are many types of materials that can be used as mulch. Some of the most common ones are sawdust, paper, and compost.
If you are not very concerned about giving your garden a pleasing appearance or an aesthetic appeal, then you may use just about any type of material that you can find in your house. Some gardeners use their old polyester clothes that they shred into tiny strips while other people use plain old ground rubber tires (a relatively new concept that has yet to be concluded as effective). The point here is that there are dozens of mulch choices that are available for your garden that fits into your design and budget.
Nature is the first one to come up with the concept of mulching and does an excellent job creating its own. For example, trees have a way of producing a natural mulch by collecting their own falling leaves, strips of bark and twigs, needles, and fallen flowers and fruits, and spreading them all around the ground. You’ll also find broken gravels and rocks covering the ground of an unmoved soil.
Mulching, regardless of the type you use, helps by protecting your soil and giving your garden a more attractive appearance. Below are two important ways that mulching benefits your garden.
Mulching controls the growth of weeds in your garden. Not only do weeds make your garden look unattractive and unkempt, but they also rob your plants of necessary nutrients and water that they need to stay healthy. And because a bare soil is like an open invitation for weeds to grow, think of a mulch as a posted sign that says keep out!
Some types of mulches are better in controlling weeds than others. Therefore, if weeds are a constant problem in your garden, consider using an organic mulch which is more effective in controlling them. Be careful, however, when choosing your mulch because some types can actually carry weed seeds.
Mulching also protects your perennials from extreme changes in temperature. Mulch helps your garden soil by allowing it to slowly warm-up when the temperature gets really hot during the day, especially in the summer, and also for the soil to slowly cool down at night, especially during the harsh, cold winter air. Mulch also acts as an insulator in places that has broad seasonal change of cold and hot.
Mulching enhances the appearance of your perennial garden. Applying mulch to your flower beds makes your garden look complete and aesthetically pleasing, especially if the same kind of mulch is used all around your landscape. Different types of mulch creates different kinds of visual aspects to your garden, depending on your preference and choice of theme. In addition to making your perennial garden look pretty, mulching also prevents dirt from splashing up into the flowers, walls, and walkways, thus, reducing mud spots when it rains.
There are dozens of materials that are effective and readily available to use for mulching. However, to find out the best one to use for your garden, you need to be familiar with the different types of them in order to make the best choice. Mulches are divided into three types:
Organics: This kind of mulch came from a living material and gradually decomposes. Some examples are straws, compost, grass clippings, and pine needles.
Inorganics: Inorganic mulches are inert materials and are sometimes used in conjunction with organic mulches. This includes several types of stones, rocks, gravel, and stone chips.
Weed control barriers: This type of mulch can be organic or inorganic and is often used along with organic or inorganic mulch. Examples are woven fabric and newspaper.