Choosing The Right Garden Mulch
Gardens take on many shapes, sizes and characteristics. All gardens, whether they are flower or vegetable, benefit from the use of mulch. When it comes to choosing mulch for a garden, it can be difficult to select from the many types of mulch on the market. Picking a mulch type is the first step when choosing mulch for the garden. Mulch is available in two basic types: organic mulch and inorganic mulch. Choosing the best mulch depends on a number of factors, including purpose, appearance, availability, and expense. Organic mulch provides a number of benefits for home gardeners. It keeps plant roots warm in winter and cool in summer. A 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch helps keep weeds in check and reduces watering requirements by minimizing evaporation. Organic mulches provide an attractive, natural appearance to the home landscape. Most organic mulches are relatively inexpensive and readily available, but the mulch must be replaced as it breaks down. However, the decomposing mulch improves soil structure and drainage while controlling soil erosion and minimizing dust.
Inorganic garden mulches are often applied on top of landscape fabric or black plastic to prevent the mulch from sinking into the soil. Most inorganic mulches aren’t easily displaced by wind or water, so replacement is rarely necessary. However, because inorganic mulch doesn’t decompose, the mulch doesn’t benefit the soil. Although some types of inorganic mulch may work well in a rock garden, light-colored inorganic mulches are often detrimental to plants because they reflect heat and sunlight that damage plants.