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How to Choose the Right Mulch for your Garden

Post Date: June 25th, 2012

Mulching is a great habit that every gardener should have because mulch provides a number of benefits to the condition of your soil. It prevents weed growth, moderates soil temperature fluctuations and seals in soil moisture. While you can get mulches from free sources, there are also mulches that can be purchased locally.


Here are some popular types of mulch that you can use on your garden, the majority of which you can get for free!:


Grass Clippings


grass clippings


Advantages: Grass clippings are a cheap and readily available option for mulch. Just mow your lawn, gather the clippings and spread it over your soil.


Disadvantages: Grass clippings tend to decay quickly. When this happens, you need to replenish them often. At the same time, you have to avoid using weed killers or nitrogen-heavy fertilizer on your lawn if you plan on using your clippings as mulch because it may adversely effect other parts of your garden.


Decaying Leaves


decaying leaves


Advantages: Decaying leaves help hold in the soil moisture very well. Also, with good ground coverage, they inhibit sunlight and smother weeds very well.


Disadvantages: Compared to other types of mulch, decaying leaves are simply not very attractive to look at. They do decay quite quickly and sometime blow away with large gusts of wind. Another thing you’ll have to be aware of is that leaves may be acidic and can lower the pH level of your soil, which in turn brings about conditions that allow moss to grow.


Wood or Bark Chips


red bark mulch


Advantages: Apart from looking neat and attractive, mulch made from wood or bark chips tend to stay where you put them. It doesn’t decay as quickly as the aforementioned types of mulch either.


pine mulch


Disadvantages: Be careful when using pine bark mulch as it is a fairly acidic material. Also, be careful with the amount of mulch you put on soil. If you accidentally apply a too deep a layer against shrub trunks or trees, you might produce a hiding area for rodents.




fresh compost soil


Advantages: The good thing about using compost is that it is free and plentiful, especially if you have your own compost pile. The nutrient content is high and great for the soil.


Disadvantages: You have to be careful in using fresh compost because the decomposition process creates heat which can shock your plants a bit if you introduce the warm compost too suddenly.


Newspaper or Shredded Paper


shredded paper


Advantages: Newspaper or shredded paper is known to work well in vegetable gardens. Its another readily available mulch material and it decomposing very quickly.


Disadvantages: You may not find newspaper or shredded paper attractive for landscaping. The coloured ink on the paper can also be harmful for your plants. If you decide on using this cheap and convenient mulch option, be cautious not to use sections with colored ink. Avoid magazines as its paper is usually colored and glossy.


Experiment a bit to see how you garden reacts over time. There are definite benefits to using mulch in your garden but each person will have different preferences so try it out for yourself to see which one works for you and your plants. And if you’re in the Vancouver area and you’re looking for a landscaping company to clean up your garden and restore its health, contact us and we’ll be more than happy to help improve your property!


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