You've seen landscaping where layers of mulch surround trees, shrubs and flower beds with nary a weed in sight. Not only does the tidy appearance of mulch add to your lawn and yard's curb appeal, but it also offers other benefits as well. What are the different types of mulch and how do they enhance your landscape? Read on to find out.
What is Mulch?
Distinct from mineral-based ground screen materials such as rock or ground rubber, organic products make for a real mulch. Leaves, ground or chipped wood, shredded bark, pine straw, chipped trees and limbs, even nut hulls make for great mulch. You can use grass clippings, however, they tend to form an impenetrable mat over the soil and so should be used sparingly.
Also, some mulches, such as true cypress, pine needles and bark from some eucalyptus species may be too acidic for your landscaping. Rhododendrons and azaleas love acidic mulches, but most plants prefer a more alkaline soil and mulch.
Beware of dyed mulch. While the bright colors may seem appealing, they soon fade to gray in the weather and the dye seeping into the ground may be hazardous to your greenery.
Many cities offer free mulch made from Christmas trees and tree branches removed near power lines.
Mulch Helps Condition the Soil
As plant by-products, mulch donates its biological constituents to the soil as it breaks down. With rain and irrigation, the nutrients locked up in mulch leach into the soil for your plants to use.
Mulching Controls Evaporation
Spread under shrubs, around flowers and up to a few inches shy of your tree trunks, mulch helps moderate evaporation. The ground will lose less water and sustains less, if any, erosion. You can water less and save money with a good mulching program.
Mulch Suppresses Weeds
When applied to an initial depth of four or five inches, mulch will suppress weeds by blocking their sunlight. Those weeds that do take root on the surface of the mulch layer become much easier to pull up.
Mulch Keeps the Ground Warmer in Winter, Cooler in Summer
Mulch acts as an insulator over the ground. In the summer, it prevents direct sunlight from overheating the ground and withering your plants. Conversely, in the winter, it becomes a blanket. Plus, the heat generated by active microorganisms breaking down the organic matter helps prevent root loss due to frost heaving.
Tips for Proper Mulching
Because the stems, stalks, and trunks of your plants need air circulation to thrive, avoid spreading mulch directly against them. Leave several inches uncovered at the bases or the mulch may rot or suffocate them along with the weeds.
When your mulch thins down to about an inch or less, it's time to add more. You may want to top it off yearly, but usually, every two or three years will do.
Meyers Green Services offers mulching programs along with regular lawn and landscaping maintenance. Call us today to request your consultation!