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Mulching Your Garden

April 19, 2019
Written by Aaron

Mulching is a common gardening technique that protects your plant and gives your garden a little more vibrancy with less work! Sprinkling a simple insulating layer of mulch material around your plants will help to maintain moisture levels, prevent weeds, insulate your plants, and clean up the appearance of your garden. The benefits are clear and there are lots of materials to choose from to meet your needs. Here’s how mulching can help your garden’s aesthetic and more:

The Importance of Mulching

Summers can get hot, leaving us with thirsty plants that need water seemingly constantly. Using hundreds of litres to keep our plants hydrated is not only a waste of resources and money, but of our time, too. Mulching will help to lock moisture in by cracking down on evaporation so that the water that you do give to your plants actually gets used at the roots rather than (literally) disappearing into thin air.

Mulching is also super effective in our wild temperature swings from summer to winter and back. For those perennials in your garden that are left out shivering through the coldest of our winter days, mulch can provide a much-needed insulative layer that blocks out the worst of the cold and freeze-thaw cycle, keeping our plants safe until temperatures are mild again. Mulching will give your plants a better success rate with surviving the winter, and you’ll have happier plants in the spring that are ready to thrive, instead of battling winter damage.

Finally, mulch does wonders to clean up the look of your garden. Mulch is a great buffer layer between our soil - where weed seeds lie in wait - and the sun that they need to thrive, effectively stifling most weed growth. You’ll save time and appreciate a cleaner looking garden where all of your soil’s resources can be spent on the plants that you want. Not only does mulch prevent unwanted weed growth, but it simply cleans up the aesthetic of your garden, providing an upgrade from the look of normally exposed dirt. There are lots of styles and materials to choose from so you can choose an effective mulch material for your home that also adds to the style and look of your landscape.

Mulching or Stone?

While some people might like the look of decorative stone to shade their soil, it simply doesn’t provide all of the benefits that most natural options offer. In addition to their lacklustre performance in all areas other than style, they can also end up being quite an expensive addition to your landscape. While stone might offer a clean look that provides a slight barrier to evaporation, biodegradable options do a better job of the health of your soil and plants while offering a similar look at a better price point.

Options for Mulching Your Garden

There are tons of materials and methods for mulching your garden, so the main questions that you should ask yourself are: What do I want to get out of my mulch? What kind of look am I going for in my garden? Do I want to use synthetic materials or natural materials?

Once you have an idea of what you want, consider these great mulch options:

Bark Mulch consists of shredded bark, creating a fantastic all-natural mulch material that will provide all of the moisture-locking and weed-blocking benefits of mulch, while also slowly boosting the health of your garden as the organic material decomposes. Bark mulches come in a variety of colours depending on the type of tree they are sourced from.

Wood Chips provide a look that is similar to bark chips, but a little more robust. Again, colours depend on the type of wood they are sourced from, but there is the additional option of treated chips that have a more uniform colour. These chips will also break down slowly to supplement your soil, so opting for an all-natural dye on the treated chips is a good idea to prevent chemicals leaching into the soil.

Straw is a good option for those that want cost-effective and all-natural mulch solutions, but are also okay with a more rustic look in the garden. We love the country aesthetic that it gives our flower beds! Keep in mind that some straw varieties might have weeds and seeds of their own that pop up when applied, so they may not be the ideal choice for those looking to cut down on weed pressure.

Compost or Manure, when applied in a thick layer will deliver a massive nutritional boost to your soil and plants, resulting in lush and beautiful growth that can’t be matched with synthetic fertilizers. If you’re looking to mulch with compost or manure, you’ll need to provide a generous coat of 2-4 inches of material to effectively insulate the soil.

Leaves and Grass Clippings are another great natural option that is very easy to source from your own yard! The clippings straight from your lawn mower bag and the leaves you collect in the fall are more welcome in your garden than the garbage. While this might not be the cleanest look in your mulching options, it’s incredibly effective and very straightforward - and the freshly clipped grass smells great.

Rubber Mulch is another option, though it is not natural and won’t contribute to the nutritional health of your soil as the other mulches do. However, it is still very effective at locking in moisture, choking out weeds, and keeping the soil insulated, all while looking clean and uniform. As it doesn’t break down like the other options, this is certainly a mulch choice that is more permanent - you won’t have to replace it, but moving it might become difficult.

Mulch is the secret weapon that goes unappreciated in many gardens, stepping up the performance and look of your landscape in one simple application. With so many options, there’s bound to be something that is the perfect fit for you and your garden’s goals.

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