ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why should I use mulch?

Updated on April 5, 2011

Mulch is a gardener’s best friend, preventing weed growth in your organic garden while also providing plenty of nutrients to the soil, keeping the garden moist in hot weather, and also slowly improving soil quality. People often believe that you need to dig soil improver in for it to work. But a mulch will be brought into the soil by earth worms, so simply by regular application of mulch you will do most of the work.

If you look at a forest, the leaves naturally form a thick layer, which rots down slowly giving nutrients. Mulch is the human equivalent to this process.

Flower bed with bark mulch
Flower bed with bark mulch

When should you use a mulch?

There are two main circumstances:

1.You should use a mulch in vegetable and flower beds to prevent weeds


If you go to most gardens, you will find many have a thin layer of compost. Once you weed an area, placing compost mulch down will help prevent weeds, as well as making the garden look better.

2 Prevent Empty ground


You should use either a green or manure mulch on empty ground to prevent nutrients leaking and weeds from growing and spoiling all your hard work. Mulch is a perfect system for weed control.

Which mulch to choose?

The mulches that are most common are:

  1. Wood chippings / bark chippings
  2. Compost
  3. Leaf Mould
  4. Manure
  5. Grass
  6. Seaweed

The choice between different mulches is more complex than you might think. When you look at the soil what do you see? If a soil is particularly badly draining because it is very heavy clay, you need something that will add more soil structure to the garden. So, the best option is leaf mould. This adds structure without adding many nutrients – which is perfect for clay which is actually a very nutritious soil.

If you are growing your own vegetables, garden mulch is a great way to reduce your work load. Once you have dug over a vegetable patch and want to leave it over the winter, a manure mulch is a great choice. The manure will break down over winter, and protect the topsoil too. You then dig it in during spring, just before you plant. You don’t use a manure mulch on ground that has plants because it can scorch the plant.

With a sandy soil, you will want to use compost mulch, because it will add nutrients to the soil. Alternatively, it used to be the practice of using seaweed mulch, which does work very well too. Although it is harder to obtain than it used to be.

Bark Mulches are typically used in any garden where there are large weed problems, and where the gardener wants to use organic weed control. It rots down very slowly, adding both structure and nutrients to the soil. An ideal but expensive choice.

Grass mulches are great in the right situation. They are very cheap, and will also keep down weeds very well. Plus, it is full of nutrients. However, you would not want to use such a mulch on flower or vegetable beds. Grass gives a place for snails and slugs to hide from birds. So, most people use grass mulch under hedge plants in order to suppress weeds.

Clover mulch as a green mulch
Clover mulch as a green mulch

Green Mulches

If you have dug over the vegetable garden, and have a patch of empty soil, you find it allows weeds to grow and also the nutrients in the soil leak out. A great technique is to sow a temporary crop that will improve the soil. Then, when you intend to use the plot, you dig in the green mulch and this adds nutrients into the soil.

I’ll write another article on how to select the right Green Mulch in the future.


Basic technique for using mulch

In essence, the main thing you need to do is make sure that the so under the mulch is as weed free as possible. So, clear the bed, paying special attention to perennial weeds. This can be a slow process.

Once you have cleared the weeds, it is often recommended that if you live in a dry area you water the bed very thoroughly. The soil should be at least damp to the touch. This is because it will take longer than the plants are used to for water to percolate down to the roots, so this extra step will make sure the plant can thrive.

The next step is to carefully put between half and a full inch of mulch round the plants, making sure you don’t cover their leaves.


You can read my blog on gardening by clicking on hardy perennial Or my booklet on How to Grow Carrots which is available on kindle.

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • RTalloni profile image

    RTalloni 

    7 years ago from the short journey

    Good guide on using mulch. Thanks much.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)