Mulch can be made up of decaying leaves, bark, or compost, and spread around or over a plant to enrich and insulate the soil
Often people associate the word mulch with a foul scent. This is probably because the only time most people are aware of mulch is when someone one says, “Ew, what is that that smell!?” And the other person usually responds with, “Oh, we just mulched our plants! “
It is important to know that not all mulch has a foul scent. There are as many benefits to mulching your planter beds as there are different kinds of mulch. Before we start, I want to address a common question: Is mulching mandatory? To keep it simple, mulch is not mandatory but is viewed as one of horticulture’s best practices and is greatly recommended.
The benefits of mulch:
- Controls weeds from germinating / growing (weeds can take vital nutrition from your plants)
- Retains moisture in the soil and will shield against the hot sun (Especially during a drought)
- Prevents the loss of soil from erosion during ‘El Nino’ season or rains in general
- Protects plants from the cooler season frost and damage from lawn equipment
- Contains, releases important soil nutrients that act as organic fertilizer
- Manages pest control and encourages other good insects such as Earthworms
- Can be aesthetically pleasing and give your property a nice finished look
Although there are many benefits of mulching, there are some things to watch out for as well. If your property is near a canyon or nature preserve, grubbing by raccoons, skunks, possums and birds is a common site. It will appear as if someone took a shovel and threw your mulch around (no, it was not your landscaper making the mulch mess along your sidewalks!). This can be challenging and its best to have a pest control company come out set some traps to catch the little critters, and release them humanely. Also, when it is humid out, the mix between the warmer weather and moist soil can cause fungus or mold to grow under your mulch. This is important to watch out for and should be checked by your landscaper often, as it can harm your plants.
There are many style options when choosing mulch which can add to the beauty of your landscape. It’s important to cycle out the old mulch and install new mulch twice a year; once in the spring and once in the fall.
Most Common Mulch Variations:
Grass Clippings – While mowing your lawn, don’t collect the grass clippings. Instead, allow the mower blade to disperse them. The clippings will cover you lawn and quickly decompose putting nutrients back into the soil. (This will also help protect against turf weeds.)
Leaves – A layer of leaves can help protect against weeds but they should be shredded to allow water to penetrate. The leaves will also decompose and offer nutrients to your soil.
Compost Mulch – Is a darker and contains more moisture than wood mulch. It looks similar to soil; high in nutrients and is used more specifically for color beds, orchards, vineyards and gardens. There a many different kinds of compost mulch including ones that don’t contain animal waste.
Wood Mulch – Can vary in size and color. Typically wood mulch is used to cover large areas such as parks, playgrounds, slopes, trails and large planter beds. Wood mulch is made up of a variety of recycled trees and lumber, and it can offer a pleasing scent of freshly cut wood to your property.
Spring will soon be here. It’s time to start thinking about getting fresh mulch in the planter beds to prepare for the summer months ahead. Heaviland Landscape Management has horticulturalists on staff that would be happy to help you determine the best mulch for your property.
If you would like more information, contact Heaviland Landscape Management today or complete the web form on the right side of this page.