The Power of Mulch & Why Your Garden Needs It Today

Mulch can be any material that is added to the soil. It acts as a protective layer, much like wearing a jacket on a cold day. The mulch can be added at any time of the year, depending on the type and objective.

A reputable landscaping company offering services in lawn care in St. Peters, MO explains the importance of mulch and why you should consider adding it to your planting schedule.

Why use mulch?

It provides insulation

The material protects the plant, its roots, and the surrounding soil from the effects of extreme weather, whether it is freezing temperatures, flooding, or the harsh sun. This is especially important for delicate seedlings as they require protection from acute temperature fluctuations or climate changes.

It enhances soil health

Both the plants and the soil need the help of insects, worms, microbes, and microorganisms to thrive. These living creatures break down the mulch and turn it into compost. In turn, the compost enriches the soil, working as an alternative fertilizer, while making it more resistant to disease and pests.

Adding mulch also helps in maintaining soil density. The organic material becomes a natural binder for the soil, preventing the dirt from eroding during a storm.

It maintains moisture

Mulch retains water. Spreading it over the soil keeps it from drying. As the mulch can hold up to 90% of its weight in moisture, it protects the plants and microorganisms from seasons of drought.

Think of mulch like you would a lid. Depending on the type of mulch, it can let some of the water through the material, but not escape. The mulch prevents evaporation, and as such, you won’t need to add as much water to the garden.

It reduces weeds

The cover limits the propagation of weeds by preventing the seeds from reaching the soil and germinating. It also blocks sunlight from reaching the weeds.

By preventing the weeds from growing and thriving, the plants will have less competition in terms of water and nutrients. The same goes for grass. Inhibiting the growth of grass allows the plants and trees to grow bigger and expand roots.

It provides a visual boundary

At times, less experienced landscapers and grounds maintenance crew can accidentally nick saplings and young trees while trimming the grass. Adding mulch around trees provides both a visual and functional purpose. With the mulch, the landscapers know how far they can go without damaging the nearby trees or hedges.

Different types of mulch

Organic mulch

Mulch comes in two major categories: organic and inorganic. Organic mulch decomposes over time. As such, it needs to be replaced regularly.

There are several types of organic mulch. This includes:

  • Newspaper
  • Leaves
  • Wood and bark
  • Compost
  • Manure
  • Grass cuttings
  • Straw

Results can vary depending on the type of mulch added to the soil. Dry bark and wood clippings, for instance, tend to decompose more slowly. The amount of nutrients it provides will be lower as compared to leaves or grass cuttings.

Synthetic and inorganic mulch

Similar to organic types, these types of mulches are effective in retaining moisture and preventing the growth of weeds. However, inorganic and synthetic types don’t decompose, and as such, they don’t need to be replaced as often as their natural counterparts. It is essential to note that inorganic mulches do not contain any nutrients and do not offer any help in fertilizing the plants.

Another consideration is temperature. Inorganic mulches such as gravel, stone, and plastic can get very hot, especially during the summer. The materials work well with plants and garden styles that love a bit of heat.

Their ability to retain heat is useful for preventing weeds and their seeds from taking hold. On the other hand, the material can also suffocate plant roots. Additional water and moisture are needed to keep the plants from drying out.

Tips for mulching

Mulch comes in many forms and has several benefits. However, applying it at the wrong time or amount can be detrimental to your garden’s health. Here are a few tips to help you mulch effectively.

1. Consider the climate

Deep mulch insulates the soil and protects it from the effects of temperature fluctuations. Applying thick mulch is recommended in areas where the weather is warm and dry as the mulch prevents moisture from evaporating too quickly.

On the other hand, adding a lot of mulch is not ideal if your location receives a lot of rain. Because mulch retains water, too much of the material prevents the water from drying out. This layer limits air circulation and encourages the growth of mold and fungi.

During the rainy season or in areas that receive plenty of rain, limit the amount of mulch that you add to the soil. Light mulch allows the ground to breathe while keeping it together, preventing erosion and soil compaction in the process.

2. Mulch at the right season

Depending on where you live, the temperatures can still be low during the spring. If you are worried about cold snaps, add a thick layer of mulch to protect the soil until you are ready to plant.

Once you are ready to plant, remove the mulch to drop your seeds. Replace the mulch with a thinner layer. The light layer of mulch protects the seeds from birds and other animals while still giving them access to air and sunlight.

During the fall, some gardeners use this time to fertilize the soil and prepare it for spring. Mulch can be added on top to protect the ground while the temperatures drop during the winter months.

3. Don’t let it touch the plants

Mulch can hold more than just moisture. It can harbor a host of microorganisms that can make your plants sick. As much as possible, the mulch should not touch the plants. Remove any low-lying leaves or stems to prevent your young plants from getting sick.

Keep the mulch away from water sources such as a fountain or a swimming pool. Consult with an expert on landscaping and lawn care in Chesterfield, MO, or even on swimming pool design, if your garden and the mulching area appears too close to a water source.

Adding a layer of mulch yields several benefits, but gardeners need to be cautious about when, where, and how much to add. Make smart use of mulch today and discover how it changes your garden.