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Mulching Your Gardens, Containers And Landscape

Updated on February 27, 2015

Mulching Your Gardens, Containers And Landscape Is Not Punishment!

Yes, I know what you must be thinking. The aspect of mulching your gardens, containers and landscape is not, and does not, in any way , conjure up any glamorous notions of gardening whatsoever! Nothing about it feels exciting, capricious , or romantic. There is no bewitchery happening that lures one to mulch.

I’ll admit it! It is more likely that I will daydream and place myself strolling aimlessly about my palatial estate, leisurely admiring all of the lovely plantings. Lingering there to fuss around, snipping off sweetly scented cut flowers for beautiful bouquets, than think to myself, 'Gosh, I'd sure enjoy mulching today!'

Confessing to a friend that you are planning to mulch your garden, they will often emit a low and pathetic moan for your benefit. A condolence for your pending chore. 'I am so, so sorry . . . are you being punished for something?'


‘Mulch’ Is Not A Dirty Word

Even the word mulch sounds dirty and unappealing. It is associated with something appalling . . . like animal chips, field muffins, cow pies, manure, or dung !

Mulch ~ a noun ~ a covering, as of straw, compost, or plastic sheeting, spread on the ground around plants to prevent excessive evaporation or erosion, enrich the soil, inhibit weed growth, etc.

Most people seem to equate the act of mulching as an unpleasant burden . Sure, we've all heard that applying a nice layer of mulch is a good thing to do, but the benefits of this practice may be vague to us. 'I've done the difficult work early on. I’ve planted, pruned and watered, and the garden is growing just fine', or so you may think.

Applying a proper layer of mulch to your gardens, containers and landscape has a multitude of benefits. Benefits that take place above and below the soil line.

Don't be heavy handed in applying your mulch, too much will result in suffocating the very plant you are caring for!


The ‘Glamorous Life’ Of Mulching

Mulching greatly helps the soil stay moist longer . So, what rain does fall, mulch enables the conservation of it.

Soil is less likely to wash away or splash up and onto your precious plants or your tidy house foundations. Mulch also keeps plants and trees cleaner and free of some soil-dwelling diseases.

By mulching a planted area, invading weeds are deterred, and your landscaping efforts look more finished and yes . . . quite glamorous indeed!


An Argument For Mulching

Moisture evaporates away more slowly from cool soil when protected from the wind. If you have mulched, you simply don't have to water your gardens and container plantings as much. Water is a precious resource, so mulching will actually reduce the time that you spend watering, as well as conserving the water itself!

The stress of summer's heat on plant life is immensely reduced when they are top-dressed with a good 2-3 inch layer of mulch. Without the summer sun's intense rays striking it, soil stays much cooler and your plants are much happier. That unrelenting summer sun above us can beat the heck out of the plants that you have so lovingly cultivated.

Without sunlight, some seeds can not germinate, and sprouts may not have the power to push through suitably layered mulch. This prevents pesky weeds from taking root and saves you from another glamorous chore ~ weeding the garden!

Video About How to Mulch, Mulching Tips and Info

Wood Chips and Bark


Wood chips and bark are among the mulches most commonly used in landscaping today. Woods such as cedar, cypress, and pine are popular because they are durable, look good, and smell great. Wood chips and bark are inexpensive, and may also be obtainable for free at your local county dump!

Stones, Pebbles And Gravel


Pebbles, stones and gravel are inorganic, so they will not degrade in the landscape over time. They do not impart any nutritional benefits to the garden, however a top dressing of stone may have a neater appearance than other forms of mulch. The use of stones does create a weed barrier, especially if they are placed over a layer of black plastic or cloth. The stones can be as decorative as you wish. You can choose a monochromatic style, or add a dash of colored stones here and there to include an element of whimsy into the bed. Accent the top-dressing with bigger, bolder stones for additional drama!

Shells And Coral


Beach shells and Coral make an attractive mulch that works the same as stones, but it gives an entirely different look to the landscape. Similar to stones, shells do not provide beneficial soil additives. Using shells as mulch is common in many coastal towns and sea-side landscapes. They truly add to the seashore atmosphere. Accentuate the bed with larger exotic shells as a fun way to decorate your garden!

Pine Needles


Some plants actually benefit from a top layer of pine needles used as mulch. A two-inch layer of pine needles makes an excellent, attractive mulch for acid-loving trees and shrubs. Azaleas, Hydrangeas, Rhododendron and many fruit-bearing shrubs are in this category. These types of species will draw the acidic components from the needles much like a fertilizer, and benefit them in their growth and overall good health!

Make Your Own Mulch!

The Rewards Of Mulching


So alas, mulching may not be the garden romance that you envisioned, nor the glamorous role you may have daydreamed for your gardening self.

Creating a finished garden, container or landscape that has been refreshed by the addition of mulch does add a certain drama. Mulch can convey to the observer that the effort made is a reward in itself. A continuing reward for you, your garden, and all things planted there!


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    • NotTooTall profile image

      NotTooTall 2 years ago from The Land of Pleasant Living

      Thank you for your visit.

      I hope you find the information helpful!


    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      so this is mulching, book mark as I need thislater

    • NotTooTall profile image

      NotTooTall 4 years ago from The Land of Pleasant Living

      Hi freefogging,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments.

      This time of year makes gathering mulching materials easy to come by. You can add a cool element by including pine cones as the top dressing to your pine needle mulch!


    • freefogging profile image

      freefogging 4 years ago from Florida

      I hate weeding! But love the look of everything when I get done and have added the colorful mulch of fresh pine needles on top!

    • NotTooTall profile image

      NotTooTall 5 years ago from The Land of Pleasant Living

      Hi Dolores Monet,

      My first chore of Spring is to weed, then start mulching. The Earthy smell is sweet to we gardeners!

      I also have access to free mulch at the local dump . . . free is good!

      Thank you for stopping by, and leaving your comments ~ I appreciate it.

      N T T

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I love mulching season and really look forward to it. Our local dump offers free mulch, a real savings as I use a lot of it. It's a shreddy hardwood much that breaks down quickly. The pine needles look so pretty when you live near the beach or a wooded area, or if the plants like an acid soil.