Mulching is a widely used technique. However, people are not so sure about its positive and negative effects.
Here are some facts that you need to know before you mulch your garden.
Is Mulch Necessary?
Mulch is a must-have if you want to improve soil moisture and prevent your garden from common problems, such as weed growth, and temperature fluctuations. Mulch can help you maintain optimal conditions without much effort.
What is the Role of Mulch?
Mulch is an ideal option for gardeners who are tired of pulling out weeds, dealing with dry soil, soil erosion, and the imbalanced nutrient composition of the soil. A thick layer of mulch keeps soil in optimal conditions by preventing it from temperatures, retaining moisture, and enhancing nutrient absorption.
When Do You Need Mulch?
You need to mulch your garden in early spring or late fall. If you want to check the growth of weeds, enhance the nutrient composition, retain moisture, regulate the temperature, prevent soil erosion, and control pests, you need to mulch your garden.
Here is why you need to mulch your garden.
- Suppress the Growth of Weeds
Weeds grow just like normal plants. They need sunlight, water, and space, which they usually get by compromising the nutrient and water needs of lighting plants.
Taking care of weeds is a tedious task, especially if you have a big garden. Looking out for them and pulling them out every now and then is not an easy task. However, mulching can help you suppress the growth of weeds.
As you mulch the area around plants, it inhibits the provision of sunlight and water to weeds. Consequently, they die. However, mulching once is not enough.
As mulch biodegrades, the probability of weeds growing again increases. So, you need to mulch your garden again after a specific period to control the growth of weeds.
- Enhance the Nutrient Composition of Soil
Many people find it a hassle to mulch their gardens every year. But it is the biodegradation of mulch that keeps your garden soil nutrient-rich.
Different type of mulches have their own nutrient composition. Though all mulches offer similar benefits, they decompose releasing essential nutrients in the soil.
So, every time you mulch your garden, you are adding nutrients to your soil, which means better growth of plants.
Generally, you need to mulch your garden every year, but it is not a set rule. You can see when the mulch has decomposed and schedule your next mulching session accordingly.
- Retain Moisture in Soil
Every plant has different water needs and you might not be able to keep up with them if you are growing numerous varieties in your garden.
Firstly, it takes time and effort. Secondly, the maintenance of water availability becomes even more difficult if you have dry soil.
Every mulch type has its own way of resting moisture in the soil, organic mulches prevent the soil from direct exposure to the sun, thus decreasing the evaporation of water from the soil.
However, inorganic mulches, like rubber mulch, enhance the absorption of water in the soil.
- Regulate the Temperature of Soil
Fluctuation in temperature can affect your plant adversely. Though some plants are more resistant to it, others can be harmed by even minor changes in the temperature.
So, you need to look out for the temperature of the area. Since you cannot manage the temperature, you can insulate YouTube soil to regulate the temperature.
Mulch helps create an insulation layer that prevents your plants from changes in temperature.
- Prevent Soil Erosion
Extreme weather conditions, such as winds or heavy rainfalls, can damage your garden and lead to soil erosion. However, if there is a protective layer of mulch, such damage can be prevented.
- Control Pests
As mentioned, mulch acts as an insulation layer. Its insulating properties are not only beneficial for prevention against extreme weathers, but it also protects your garden from unwanted pests and insects. It also checks fungal growth in your garden.
If you have a certain pest that infiltrates your garden, you can consult experts to choose a mulch that is specifically beneficial for dealing with that pest.
When Don’t You Need Mulch?
You shouldn’t mulch too much. Over-mulching can attract pests, dehydrate/overheat the soil, leech nitrogen, block sunlight, affect water absorption, and prevent seed germination.
No matter how beneficial a technique is, if you use it excessively it will cause harm. Similar is the case with mulching.
No doubt, mulching is very beneficial for your garden, but over-mulching can have disastrous effects on your garden.
Here are some of the main reasons why you shouldn’t mulch your garden.
- Attract Pests
Soil can absorb specific amounts of nutrients. If you over-mulch your garden, the soil might not be able to absorb all the biodegradable matter and the decayed mulch would become an inviting feast for insects and pests.
If you don’t check the frequency of mulching, you might end up dealing with pest infestations. So, make sure you are not over-mulching your garden.
- Dehydrate or Overheat the Soil
The technique organic mulches use for resting moisture can prove harmful if you over-mulch your garden. They create a thick layer, thus preventing the water from absorbing in the soil.
So, organic mulches might dehydrate the soil by not allowing the water to run deep in the soil.
Similarly, mulches can overheat the soil if the layer is too thick. The outside temperature will not be able to stabilize the overheating, as the mulch layer acts as insulation to the outside temperature.
- Nitrogen Leeching
One of the most common types of mulch is sawdust mulch.
It can leech out one of the most important nutrients from the soil, nitrogen. So, if you are going for sawdust mulch, make sure you don’t over-mulch your garden.
Besides, you can use a nitrogen fertilizer to balance the availability of nitrogen to plants.
- Sunlight and Rain Water Blockage
If you mulch too much, the layer gets thick and prevents sunlight and rainwater from reaching the soil. Though extreme weather conditions are harmful to plants, natural weather conditions are helpful in maintaining optimal growth.
So, mulches might get in the way of natural growth if not maintained properly. The solution to these problems is not to make a thick layer of mulch over your garden. Spread the mulch in such a way that the layer is thin and allows the drainage of water within the soil.
- Affect Seed Germination
If you mulch too much and the sunlight doesn’t reach the soil properly, it would affect the germination of seeds.
When planting new seeds, make sure you haven’t applied a thick layer of mulch. The best way to avoid this situation is to not mulch your garden until the seeds have sprouted.
Is Mulch Expensive?
Whether mulch is expensive or not depends on the type of mulch you want. If you DIY mulch or go for a newspaper or inorganic mulch, the cost is affordable. However, if you are buying packaged mulch, it might cost you a fortune.
However, if you have no experience with mulching and don’t want to risk your garden by DIY, Window Garden Fiber Organic Mulch is an ideal option for you. You can buy this affordable organic mulch by clicking this link.
Do You Need to Mulch Every Year?
Generally, yes. You need to mulch your garden every year. However, if you are using inorganic mulches like stones, rocks, and rubbers, they can last longer than a year.
Are there any Mulch Alternatives?
Yes, you can use rocks, stones, fabric, rubber, newspaper, cardboard, hay, straw, leaves, grass, and compost as mulch alternatives.
Though mulch is extremely beneficial for your garden, many people can’t get to use mulch. The reasons are subjective. Some people might not be able to afford it, while others might not be sure if they want it or not.
If you are in one of these situations, fret not. Here are some mulch alternatives that are beneficial as well as practical.
- Rocks and Stones
Rocks and stones are one of the most durable mulches and you don’t need to replace them annually. The ease of mulching with rock and stones depends on the size of the stones you choose.
They are suitable for water absorption and add to the aesthetics of your garden. So, the water and air will efficiently flow through the soil.
- Rubber or Fabric
Rubber is a great alternative for mulch. They are not degradable like organic mulch, so you don’t need to re-mulch any time soon.
Besides, it doesn’t lead to fungal growth. It gives plenty of room for water and sunlight absorption. Also, it is heavy enough to not get carried away by winds.
There is one drawback to using rubber as an alternative to mulch. Some rubbers have chemicals, which might seep into the soil and adversely affect plant growth.
Landscape fabrics are yet another cheap option that parents pest growth. However, they might also hinder the growth of beneficial insects.
Also, the fabric is not an ideal option if you want your garden to look pretty.
Newspaper is one of the easiest mulch to use in your garden. You can shred newspaper and make a layer over the soil. If you are worried about the aesthetics of your garden, you can cover it.
Newspaper is an organic mulch, so it will break down and get mixed with the soil eventually, which will enhance the nutrient content of the soil.
- Hay and Straw
It is an ideal option for your garden if you are fond of growing vegetables. They help retain moisture and control weeds, which consequently facilitates plant growth.
The best part about hay and straw is that it’s affordable. So, you can mulch your garden without upsetting your budget.
Though ready-made compost is available in the market, you can also DIY it. The process is tedious, time-consuming, and would create a non-pleasant smell, but the results are worth it. You can mix it with other types of mulches or use it alone.
It doesn’t contribute to the aesthetics of your garden, but as far as the nutritional contribution is concerned, you will not find a better alternative than this.
If you want to use compost, but cannot DIY it, try John Innes Seed Sowing Compost. You can buy this organic and affordable compost by clicking this link.
Related: How to Mulch Magnolia Leaves? Is it Even Worth it?
Mulch: Pros and Cons
- Suppresses weed growth
- Helps retain moisture
- Prevents soil erosion
- Regulate temperature
- Prevent crop rotting
- Enhance the nutrient composition of soil
- Attract harmful insects
- Nitrogen leeching
- Dehydrate soil
- Overheat soil
- Affect seed germination
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