How To Choose The Best Mulch For Your Garden

We are always being told that we should use mulch on our garden beds and there are good reasons why this is so. By covering the soil the mulch helps to retain moisture by preventing evaporation and also helps to keep down the weeds. But there are some downsides and using the wrong type of mulch can cause problems. I came across an article by Curtis Adams over on the Houzz website which describes six different materials used as mulch and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Almost every gardening expert will recommend using mulch around new and existing plantings, but why? Mulch has many benefits in the garden, but it can also cause problems if used improperly.
In nature, mulch forms naturally from fallen leaves, dead grasses and other materials that collect on the ground. This layer of decomposed, or decomposing, material provides a home for beneficial organisms that break the organic materials in the mulch into simpler components that can be used by plants. In addition, this natural mulch provides a cushioning layer that lessens the impact of rain falling on the soil, thus reducing soil compaction and erosion, and improving water absorption. Mulch forms a barrier that prevents evaporation ? helping to mitigate against drought conditions. It also acts as a thermal insulator to moderate extreme changes in soil temperature. Mulch shades the soil surface and blocks seeds that require exposure to light for germination, as is the case with many garden weeds.
Mulches used in the home landscape perform many of these natural functions, some better than others. In addition, mulch also serves as a design element, adding color and texture to the ground plane. Determining the best mulch to use depends on where you are, the type of landscape you are working with and your aesthetic goals.
See more at Houzz
Feature photo: Gardens of Growth

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