If you’re on the hunt for the perfect erosion buster, moisture conserver and ultimately plant enhancer for your garden – then it’s time to start mulching.
Whether we’re talking about a flower bed or a veggie patch, mulching has long been regarded as possessing almost magical properties for gardeners everywhere. Although actioning it can be at times messy, mulching is the definition of reaping what you sow. Just a handful of the associated benefits include –
- Water retention and conservation, especially during droughts
- Acts as a layer of insulation and shade for soil and plant roots
- Keeps new and existing weeds at bay
- Helps to improve soil quality by adding in needed organic matter
- Can be actioned year round
- Saves you time and energy and in the long term
There is no other single thing that a gardener can do that yields as many benefits as mulching does, so if you aren’t doing it already – perhaps it’s time to jump on the bandwagon!
Five Common Types Of Mulch And Their Differences
Generally speaking, organic (chemical free) mulches are recommended to pump your soil full of microbes and nutrients, especially if you plan on using them in a herb or veggie patch. If you’re a newbie to mulching, then the first place to start is determining what kind of materials are best suited to your garden or environment – so what are your options?
Shredded Bark – A very common option and suitable to most garden beds, it’s usually a by-product of the timber industry. One thing to note though is that it can suck up nitrogen from your soil if it’s of poor quality, so adding an organic fertiliser or probiotic to the soil prior to application is always a good idea.
Straw Or Hay – Not only does it look great, but it’s usually available in a variety of sizes to suit a wide array of spaces. As it breaks down more slowly than leaves or grass clippings, it’s quite a popular option for vegetable patches as it also does a terrific job at keeping mud out of garden beds. A handy tip is to use a pea straw for an extra boost of nitrogen for poor soils.
Compost – Particularly rich in nutrients, compost is a wonderful mulching solution as it’s readily made at home from your existing waste. It can also be used with a secondary layer of mulch on top of it to utilize the best features from each material. Just be sure to check if any grass clippings were sprayed with herbicide, otherwise you could accidentally decimate your plants. And be wary of where the clipping have come from as running type grass seeds can cause havoc in the garden bed.
Bark Chips – Otherwise known as bark nuggets, these are thicker and chunkier than other mulching materials. If it’s suitable to your area, the bigger the bark nugget – the longer it lasts. While it means that they’re slower to break down, they’re also not ideal for sloped garden beds as any rainfall can quickly wash the bark away.
Stones Or Rocks – While this material doesn’t break down or need replacing, they also don’t provide the same nutritional benefits as other mulching options. They are usually found in cactus and succulent gardens, as the stones have a tendency to get quite hot. If using this material, take care to keep on top of any weeds that may pop through.
The Basics On How To Start Mulching
The practice itself isn’t all that difficult, but there are a few key actions that can make or break your experience with mulching. To set yourself (and your garden) up for success, there are a few steps that can be taken before you add mulch to your garden beds.
- Remove any pre-existing weeds to make sure that they don’t receive the same nutritional benefits as your other plants.
- Moisten the soil thoroughly, and consider adding a dose of organic plant food, probiotic or fertiliser to get it in top shape.
- If water is running off the surface, grab a pitchfork and add some compost first to aid with water retention.
- If you are adding plants to a garden bed for the first time, add some compost into the planting hole too.
- Don’t apply any more than 5-8cm of mulch onto your garden bed, or it can restrict rainfall or water access to the plants.
Where To Find More Sustainable Gardening Tips
Whether you’re on the hunt for more tips with how to start gardening more efficiently at home, or further insights regarding an alternative for chemical based plant food, fertilisers or weed killers – then it’s always worth speaking to the professionals.
Here at Bioweed, we specialise in environmentally friendly gardening products, including herbicides, plant probiotics, and natural alternatives to traditional gardening solutions. Should you have any questions about how to improve the sustainability of your home, garden or agricultural crop, get in touch with us today.