Making The Most Of Your Mulch: Exploring The Options For Your Garden

by Grace Motley

As a novice gardener, few things can dampen your spirits, like seeing your newly-sprouted garden becoming overrun with weeds. Luckily, you don't have to saturate the soil in herbicides to keep them at bay. Instead, explore some mulch options to create a weed barrier. Here's a look at why mulch works and some of the most popular types to choose from.

Bark Mulch

Shredded bark mulch is one of the most common mulch choices. It is also among the most affordable. Bark mulch is typically created from a variety of tree types, including cedar. Since the wood breaks down slowly, it's considered to be an environmentally-friendly option. The one thing to keep in mind is that bark will draw nitrogen from the soil during decomposition. If your soil is lacking in nitrogen, you'll want to add some organic fertilizer when you put the bark mulch down.

Gravel or Stone Mulch

If you live in an area with colder temperatures or you have a garden of succulents, gravel or stone can serve as mulch. The stone will absorb heat, insulating roots from the cold temperatures. If you live in a warm climate, this isn't an ideal choice, because your plants are likely to overheat.

Straw Mulch

If you're looking for a mulch choice that will add a golden hue to your garden, you should consider straw mulch. The golden color will complement the greens in your garden. Straw breaks down slowly, making it a long-lasting investment for your growing area. If you opt for straw mulch, just make sure that it is free of any seeds. Straw mulch can carry weed seeds, which may actually cause more problems than it helps.

Cocoa Hull Mulch

When you want a mulch product that is unique and elegant, consider cocoa hulls. The rich, deep color of the cocoa hulls set it apart from other products, and the hulls will release a mild chocolate scent around the garden. It is among the most expensive, but it lasts a long time. The hulls decompose very slowly, and it doesn't lose color due to sun bleaching. Skip the cocoa hulls if you have animals in the neighborhood, though, because it can be dangerous for cats and dogs if they consume it.

With so many choices for garden mulch, it's no surprise that some new gardeners are overwhelmed. If you aren't sure which one is best for your garden, talk with a local landscaper like Show-Me Mowing. He or she can help you evaluate your options to find the best choice.