Placing mulch in your garden or flowerbed is a premier method of controlling weeds. Mulch also has many other functions in gardening and landscaping. A good mulch helps to slow soil erosion and retain moisture thus reducing the need for watering. The proper mulch also helps to regulate soil temperatures. Using a mulching lawnmower is good for your lawn, as well. The mulched grass clippings decompose and add nutrients to your lawn. A mulching lawn mower uses a different style of blade than a regular mower. The primary reason for using a good mulch, however, is to control the growth of weeds.
Purposes of mulch
Mulch is used to:
- Slow down soil erosion on slopes or hillsides.
- Regulate soil temperatures, keeping the soil cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
- Retain moisture in the soil.
- Prevent the growth of weeds.
- Amend the soil.
Types of mulch
There are many different types of organic mulch.
- Shredded newspaper.
- Partially composted leaves.
- Straw or hay.
- Wood chips.
- Pine straw.
- Lawn clippings.
These are primarily;
- Gravel or stones.
- Black plastic sheeting.
- Lawn or landscape fabric.
Choosing the correct mulch
- Take into consideration the specific application in which you are planning to use a particular mulch.
- Appearance is an important consideration in choice of mulch.
- Use a stone mulch around trees, succulents, and cacti.
- Use lawn or grass clippings in open, unplanted areas.
- Black plastic or landscape fabrics may not add to the aesthetic of your prize flowerbeds but may look just fine in your vegetable garden.
- Availability of a particular mulch material may also be an important factor influencing your decision. Pine straw, for example, may not be available in your area.
- Some mulch materials can be left on your beds year around. Most mulches, however, need to be removed and replaced annually.
If you are going to use leaves for a mulch, be sure to shred them first. You can partially shred leaves by running your mulching lawnmower over them.
Be aware that using grass clippings in flowerbeds or vegetable gardens may add weed seeds to your beds. That is why grass clippings work best for mulch in wide, open, unplanted spaces.
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