Mulch is an excellent way to help take care of flowers and trees while making things look great. A commercial product can be used, or things left behind by nature, such as leaves and pine needles. Some do not find these types of items pleasing to the eye, so often they will use a commercial product.
Mulch keeps water from evaporating, keeping soil damp longer, so things do not have to be watered so often. It also keeps soil temperature even, protecting it from the heat of summer and the cold of winter. It also inhibits weed growth when spread deep enough, as long as it is a commercial product that has been certified clear of any weed seeds.
Some mulches make the soil better, by decaying and turning into topsoil. This topsoil adds nutrients, enriching the soil. It also keeps soil from becoming packed down, which allows roots to reach water easier and keeps them from rotting, which can happen in areas with compacted or clay soils.
If a mulch is used soil is less likely to form a crust, which can keep water from being absorbed. Depending upon the color and texture of the product, it can also make the landscaping more aesthetically pleasing, all while making it healthier.
There are essentially two kinds of mulch, organic and inorganic. Rock, black plastic, and gravel are inorganic products. These will not decompose. They may need some maintenance, though, if by a sidewalk or road, as the product can get kicked or blown away.
Organic types of mulch include pine needles, grass clippings, and shredded or chunks of bark. These will decompose and eventually need additional product added to maintain the look and weed control properties. These will attract insects and also birds that feed on the insects.
Leaves are a cheap mulch, and good for controlling weeds. Usually they are available right in your own yard and can be easily shredded with the lawn mower and allowed to lay on the lawn. A shredded can be used, also, for leaves that will be used in other areas. If you do not have your own, a neighbor or friend can usually be persuaded to part with their leaves. When used in flower beds or gardens, the soil should be turned over once the leaves decompose, and another layer added on the top.
Bark or wood chips and pieces are easily found commercially and fairly common in yards. They are usually colored, such as red or black. Different sizes are available, from large chunks to shredded pieces. In a good rain, large pieces will float away, so choose the best product for your needs. The smaller the size, the faster they will decompose, and need to be replaced.
Small pebbles and gravel are also used as mulch and can be bought fairly cheaply. Some concrete suppliers will sell gravel much cheaper than a landscaping or garden store. These will reflect the sun’s rays and make the yard much warmer in the summer.
Another method of mulching is to use black plastic. This is usually put under bark or rock, however. It can keep soil from absorbing water or keep it too wet, so small holes may need to be put in the plastic. If it gets a lot of sun it will break down, so is almost always used under another product.
Ideally, mulch should be put in when the plants are. However, if the plants are established, it is best to lay the product down in springtime, before weeds have gotten a good hold in the soil. It can be good way to inhibit weed growth, ensure plant health, and make your yard look fantastic.
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