Mulch, as a noun, according to a standard dictionary, is a protective cover placed around plants to retain moisture, typically existing of some organic matter. In the verb form, meaning to cover or surround with mulch, the word is much more fun to use. For example, my husband seems to spend all his time mulching the garden. |
Though apt as definitions go, it hardly does justice to a word with such guttural resonance. Depending on the material used, it can do more than just protect and trap moisture around trees and plants. Some types can help cool the earth beneath it, deter the growing of weeds and also fertilize soil over time due to decomposition. Even these practical applications disregard the aesthetic possibilities different types can add to or enhance any garden bed. Finding the variety that suits your needs, whether it be to create a colorful Monet-like landscape around trees and flowers or to sustain a high yielding soil for herbs and vegetables, can be as simple as it is rewarding.
For the cost conscience, shredded leaves, grass clippings and even newspaper are effective options that can basically be had for free. Being organic, all of these materials are not only protective but can create optimal conditions for enriching the soil. Newspaper is an ideal fundamental layer for weed suppression and moisture retention, yet typically requires another type of covering on top of it. Use only black and white print, however, as colored ink may harm the soil. Grass clippings are very fertile due to the speed of decomposition though have a tendency to become slimy and might not allow water through. Leaves, being the mulch of mother nature, are the best of these options, yet like the fore-mentioned ones, it still has a lack of aesthetic appeal.
Slightly easier on the eyes are pine needles or straw. Decomposing slower, these materials create an ideal environment for spiders as a natural form of pest control. They are also easy to rake up when deciding to replant.
Stone and rubber are alternatives that offer a wider palate when it comes to decor. Available in a range of shapes and colors, not only do these materials satisfy the original definition, they also require very little maintenance. Though they also aid in the prevention of weeds, they do little and less to enhance the soil since they don't decompose.
Offering the best of both worlds are bark or wood chips. Whether natural or aided by environmentally safe dyes, these can be had in red, brown or black earth tones. Decomposing at a much slower rate, they are easier to maintain than leaves or grass, yet still engender fertility.
Everything being relative, deciding on a mulch, in summation, can be simply dictated by need. Shredded leaves would be most favorable for growing vegetables. Stone or rubber would suffice for a path or a playground. Wood-based covers for general, all purpose uses.
When looking for mulch, PA residents go to Britton Industries. To learn more, visit http://www.brittonindustries.com/Mulch-s/12.htm.
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