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The topic for this article is the various types and usages of mulch in landscaping. Keep reading to learn about nine types and the advantages of such mulches.

As a gardening enthusiast, you already know how essential mulch is in your garden and its importance towards your landscape’s health.

Mulching is an ancient procedure to improve the state and productivity of garden soil. It is a healthy process to conserve moisture, reduce or block weed growth, maintain temperature, increase productivity and more.

Mulch is a gardening time saver and sows many rewards for vegetable and flower gardens alike. If you want to apply mulch to your landscape, you need to choose the right type depending on your needs.

Different types of mulches provide various benefits to your landscape. There are two separate categories involved: organic and inorganic. Next we will dive into learning about the different mulches and their usage.

Organic Mulches

Organic mulches can easily decompose, hold in water, slow weed growth and maintain temperature in flower beds. The organic type prevents soil erosion and allows lots of nutrients to pass through to the soil.

Good organic mulches are beneficial as they drive the attention of earthworms, ground beetles, frogs, and toads which is good for your garden.

  1. Bark
    You can get shredded hardwood and softwood bark or wood chips from any local garden shop as it is popular and cheap. These are the byproducts of the timber from paper companies. Mulch makes a great way to recycle these wood byproducts. Barks are mostly dried, aged, and dyed in red or black color to be sold in bags.

    Hardwood barks are great for plants, trees, shrubs, and perennial beds. Softwood barks, which are derived from pine trees, should be placed around large trees and shrubs. These barks are the best for insulating roots and holding water. When they decompose, they eventually increase the fertility of the soil. Always keep the mulch over your soil bed and never turn over the mulch.

  2. Municipal Tree Waste
    Mulch made from municipal tree waste is available to gardeners at no cost from their town or city. It usually contains large chunks of wood. It is best for using as material to create paths between your garden. These mulches are fresh organic material which adds more nitrogen to the soil when they decompose.
  3. Cocoa Bean Hulls
    Cocoa hulls mulch come from the roasting of cocoa beans, and these are rich colors with a pleasant sweet scent. In the time of roasting, the beans separate and leave the hull as a byproduct. Cocoa bean mulches are popular among gardeners as it is organic, lightweight, easy to use and ideal for all gardens. Because of roasting, these hulls are free from weeds or microorganisms.

    Avoid applying hulls not more than one-inch-deep, and water lightly as cocoa bean hulls decompose rapidly. It is required to replace the hulls every year since they decompose so quickly. The drawback of this type of mulch is that it’s not recommended if you have pets or wildlife because this byproduct can be harmful to animals if they eat it.

  4. Compost
    Decomposed compost is the best way to mulch your garden naturally. Organic gardeners mostly love to create their compost as it gives extra nutrients to your soil. You can make it using yard and vegetable waste that is kept a long time to rot.

    However, nothing is comparable to animal manure as it is rich in nutrients. To use this manure ideally, compost it for five to six months and keep it warm to kill harmful diseases. Avoid using fresh manure as it can burn your plant’s roots and dog, cat and pig manure can create diseases.

  5. Leaf Mulch
    Leaf Mulch is not as attractive as commercial mulch, and these have carbon, phosphorus, and potassium, which are about 80% tree nutrients. Clay-like soil can be lightened, and earthworms can eat these leaves with ease. Leaf mulch is best used when it is shredded before using in the garden.
  6. Grass Clippings
    Grass clippings are the best mulch you can use in your garden as they can quickly decompose. You can also put them under the soil as they help to add nutrients to the soil. It is ideal to add grass clippings in a thin layer, waiting for each layer to dry, and adding another layer. Avoid adding thick layers as they can rot your plants, cause mold and spread an unpleasant smell of decay.

Inorganic Mulches

Inorganic mulches can never easily decompose and do not effectively add quality to the soil. They can hold moisture, control weeds, keep the soil warm, and add a decorative look around your landscape.

  1. Pea Gravel
    Pea gravel is almost as perfect for landscaping and mulching as its organic counterparts to prevent weed growth and hold in moisture. You can get them near many various bodies of water. Each piece ranges from 1/8 inch to 3/8 inch and has smooth, natural colors such as gray, white, ecru, rust and translucent.

    Pea gravel does not decompose so it’s a good option for using in your landscape. You can use it in patios, paths, driveways and playgrounds, as it looks amazing in your landscape.

  2. Landscape Fabric
    Landscaping fabric is best for stopping weed growth. It comes as sheets to make a barrier between weeds and the upper layer of your soil bed. It does work perfectly if you set it up correctly in your garden. Don’t worry, it can easily allow air and water to pass through. It is best to use with organic mulches, and it decomposes faster than other inorganic mulches.
  3. Rock or Crusher Dust
    Lava rock, marble chips, crushed gravel or crusher dust will not break down. These types of mulches are attractive, making them a popular option for your walks and pathways. It is a one-time investment of cost and labor, so you can easily place them to add stunning looks to your landscape. You should not use them around shrubs, trees and other plants as they cannot conserve moisture and can cause heat stress in plants.

    Pumice rocks are special rocks that are the result of volcanic eruptions; they are a great addition to use as mulch. They are lightweight, retain moisture, and give good aeration to the soil bed. But they cannot break down fungi, molds or insects.

Advantages of Using Mulch

Mulches help your garden greatly by keeping down weed growth, retaining moisture and numerous other advantages.

  1. It helps to reduce lost water in soil. These mulches eventually reduce evaporation and improve water absorption when you water your garden or turn on sprinklers or rains.
  2. Mulches slowly reduce weed growth and control erosion.
  3. Organic mulches improve the minerals of soil to make it more ideal for planting.
  4. It protects the soil from hot and cold temperatures. Keep the soil warmer in winter and colder in summer.
  5. It can draw the attention of beneficial worms in the garden.
  6. Mulch adds beautiful color and texture as a part of your garden.

To get the greatest advantages from mulch, be sure to use the material appropriately. For instance, apply not so thick or nor too thin of a layer of mulch. Use a three-inch layer of organic mulch in the garden as it is usually the right amount for plants. Also, keep the mulch at least one inch away from the base of the plant and a foot distance from the tree. Mulch that contacts directly with the base of plants or trees can cause disease and pests as it decomposes.