Mulch is incredibly useful for maintaining plant health. It can be any number of materials placed around plants to suppress weeds, maintain ground temperature, reduce soil erosion, and retain moisture. It can also be used to cover entire plants for insulation over winter, or simply for aesthetics.
Types of Mulch
– Made of plant material
– Slowly breaks down, releasing nutrients into the soil
– Examples: shredded bark, bark or wood chips, cocoa hulls, hay, straw, grass clippings, shredded leaves, pine needles, and ground corncobs
– Does not break down
– Should use weed barrier fabric beneath to control weeds
– Examples: sand, crushed stone, gravel, and pebbles
Organic Mulches at America's Best Flowers
|Cypress Bark||- Resists rotting, so it won’t sustain growth of mold or fungi|
- Mild insect repelling properties
- Color lasts longer than other woods
|Hardwood Mulch||- Slow to decompose, so less maintenance|
|Pine Bark Nuggets||- Provides a woodsy feel and aroma |
- Larger size means it will break down more slowly, so less maintenance
- Need to use more for adequate insulation- Nice aesthetics
|Pine Bark Mulch||- Provides a woodsy feel and aroma |
- Effective for controlling weeds and fungi
|Gold or Red Mulch||- Colored with vegetable-based dyes that are 100% safe for use around your home|
- Provides longer-lasting color
|Cocoa Bean Mulch||- Pleasant chocolate fragrance|
- Don’t use if you have a dog, as it can be poisonous if ingested
- Can mold in shady moist areas, so keep layer about 1 inch thick
- Need to use a lot for insulating effect
- Nice aesthetics
|Straw or Marsh Hay||- Great for vegetable gardens|
- Provides good air circulation
- Little compaction
Use the following formula to calculate how much mulch you will need to cover an area. All of the mulch we sell comes in bags that are 2 cu.ft.
Length x Width = sq.ft. x Depth (desired depth of mulch) = cu.ft.
– Apply no more than a 2-3 inch layer.
– Leave a space of 2-3 inches around plants free of mulch to allow air flow and prevent disease or rot.
– Depending on how quickly the mulch decomposes, replenish throughout the growing season to maintain a 2-3 inch thick layer of mulch.
The two times to mulch perennials are mid-late spring and late fall. In the spring, mulch after the soil has had a chance to warm up and winter moisture has dried out. The mulch will help suppress weeds, retain moisture through the heat of summer, and help keep the roots cool.
In the fall, mulch perennials in late October or early November to protect them from the stress of winter. It keeps the roots warm, but more importantly, it helps regulate the temperature of the roots to prevent damage from temperature changes. When the ground temperature alternates between freezing and thawing, the ground tends to heave, which can unearth plants and harm roots. The mulch also helps perennials maintain dormancy until it’s warm enough that there’s no chance of refreezing.
Harder, long-lasting mulch should be used on the surrounding soil for lasting coverage. Organic mulch is especially beneficial because as it decomposes, it provides nutrients and structure to the soil. For extra insulation, use leaves, straw, or marsh hay to cover and protect the above-ground stems of shrubs and tender perennials; just be sure to remove it in the spring.
Mulching Annual and Vegetable Gardens
Mulch annuals and vegetable gardens once the soil has warmed. For this purpose, the best options are chopped leaves, straw, or marsh hay. Grass clippings can be used, but only if no herbicide was applied to it.
Straw is lightweight and provides more air circulation than leaves, grass, or marsh hay. Marsh hay is similar to straw, but can sometimes become compacted and can occasionally contain weed seeds. Leaves break down, which means they provide nutrients and can be left in the garden at the end of the season, but they can also become matted. Leaves from deciduous trees can be found at a nice price; free for the raking! Avoid using black walnut leaves, as they contain a toxin that inhibits the growth of some plants.