Do you ever feel like your garden is constantly fighting with you? There’s that constant urge to keep it neat, but who has the time? Fortunately, there are several simple ways to keep your garden looking great without much work.
Mulch is one of the best ways to do this. It helps retain moisture throughout the season as well as ward off soil erosion in your yard. When done regularly, it can also help prevent compaction in your soil and increase soil vibrancy. If you’re wondering how much mulch you need for your particular garden, and the types of mulching materials that will work best for you, read on for some insight.
What is Mulch?
Mulch, or composted mulch, is simply a material that’s placed directly on the soil to cover it. What makes this type of mulching so beneficial for the garden is that it helps improve soil structure, water retention, and aeration. When mulched, the soil’s structure is improved, making it more resistant to water erosion and helping it retain moisture better.
Aeration is also improved, which allows for increased nutrient uptake by the plant. Mulch is often made of organic matter such as shredded leaves, straw, or wood shavings. Synthetic mulches are also available, including several types of bark, stone, and gravel. While they usually don’t contain as much organic matter, they can be cheaper, lighter, and easier to apply without having to fork up a lot of heavy equipment.
Different Types of Mulches
Bark – Bark mulch is usually made of birch or cedar, and is usually dark in colour to inhibit weed growth. It also creates a barrier between the soil and the plant to prevent pests and soil-borne diseases.
Chips – Chips are sawdust that’s been composted and shredded into smaller pieces. They generally exist as a weed-suppressing mulch but can be used as a weed barrier, too. They can also be used to improve soil aeration.
Compost – As the name suggests, compost is the by-product of composting. It can be used as a weed barrier and as a soil amendment.
Leaves – If you’re looking for an all-natural mulch, then use your homegrown leaves. They can be used as a weed barrier and are a good water retention material. They can’t be used as a soil amendment.
Pine needles – These almost look like shredded paper, making them a good alternative to shredded leaves. They’re also very light and come in a variety of colours, making them perfect for creating a more aesthetically pleasing yard.
Straw – If bark mulch is the dark, raw sort of mulch, then straw is the fluffy, white variety. It’s recommended for use in gardens that are planted in annual crops because it keeps those plants looking lush and hydrated.
Wood Shavings – If you’re looking for natural wood mulch, then you might want to consider wood shavings. They aren’t as much of a soil amendment as some of the others listed here, but they are a good substance to keep your garden looking beautiful.
When Do You Need to Add Mulch?
You usually want to add mulch to the soil in the fall or winter, just before it starts to become too dry. During the spring and summer, the soil should be able to hold the moisture it currently has without much help from you. If you plant in the fall, you’ll be able to add the mulch in the spring. This way, the leaves, and other vegetation will provide a barrier between the mulched soil and the sun.
This will stop erosion and keep your soil from getting too dry. In the winter, you can add mulch to prevent soil from getting too compacted. This is important because it helps water seep into the soil better and provides better drainage. If your soil is compacted, there’s a chance that it will flood if it gets too rainy.
How Much Mulch Is Enough?
It depends on your soil type and how often you plan on adding it to the soil each year. In general, you want to add an inch of organic matter to each square foot of garden space. That means a 1,000-square-foot garden would use 3 cubic yards of mulch. If you’re going to be using your mulched soil as a raised bed, you’ll also need to take into account the depth of the bed.
You generally want to add enough mulch to just cover the bed. This will help you prevent blowing soil from getting into your plants. If you’re using it as a ground cover in the garden, you may not need as much depth. If you don’t know what type of soil you have, though, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Which Type of Mulch Should You Use?
There are several different types of mulch available on the market, but the one you should choose will depend on your specific needs. Below are some of the most common types of mulches available.
Bark – Bark mulch is usually made of a type of shredded wood called shredded hardwood. It’s dark in colour to inhibit weed growth and creates a barrier between the soil and the plant.
Chips – Chips are like sawdust that’s been composted and shredded into smaller pieces. They’re usually used as a weed-suppressing mulch, but they can also be used as a weed barrier.
Compost – Compost is the by-product of composting. It can be used as a weed barrier and as a soil amendment.
Leaves – Leaves are a great mulch to use in the garden because they’re so very natural. They can be used as a weed barrier, and they’re also a good water retention material.
Pine needles – Pine needles come from coniferous trees, such as pines and spruce, and are very light mulch that also creates a barrier between the soil and the plant.
Straw – Straw is a fluffy, white mulch that can be used to add a little bit of water retention to the soil. It’s also a good substance to keep your garden looking beautiful.
Wood Shavings – Wood shavings are not true mulch, but they do a good job of keeping the soil moist. If you’re looking for a material that doesn’t hold too much water, wood shavings are a good option.
Shaping your garden can help you create a space that feels more like a retreat and less like a space that’s just functional. Whether you choose to create a space that’s filled with plants or one that’s focused on a specific theme, having plants in your yard can make all the difference. There are several ways to add plants to your yard.
You could plant a garden, purchase potted plants, or even buy a planter and add them to your front porch. Whichever method you choose, the best thing you can do is to care for them well. This means you need to water them properly, fertilize them, and provide them with enough sunlight. You could even consider adding a layer of mulch to your yard to help retain moisture and keep it from blowing away.