Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Miracles of Mulch

I love using mulch in my garden.  It helps control weeds, conserves water and improves the overall appearance of my garden.  What I don't love is the cost and hassle of commercial mulch.  I guess I'm just too frugal (cheap?) to spend money when there are lots of alternatives right at my fingertips. 
I use many different types of mulch in my yard with much of it depending on what is available when I need it. 
My first preference is organic mulches.  They break down over time adding organic matter that improves soil structure and feeds beneficial soil organisms.  A thick layer of organic mulch also cools the soil resulting in the need for less irrigation.  My favorite organic mulches include grass clippings, shredded leaves,

                                                         "not quite finished compost"

                                                and our dried and shredded Christmas tree. 

Most people will tell you to be careful using pine around your plants.  Pine needles have a low pH and you'll hear you should only use them around acid loving plants but the reality is that it takes a lot of any one ingredient to change the overall pH of your soil.   Use them on your acid loving plants first but if you don't have any plants with those needs don't worry and don't let your Christmas tree go to waste.
When free organic mulch isn't available I switch to inorganic mulch


Landscaping pavers and terra cotta pieces

River Rocks

                                                         Wine corks and landscape stone

You're probably, what a wino!   Actually, I do love drinking wine but many of these came from the restaurant I worked for and they would have ended up in the trash had I not taken them home.
Using mulch is one of the most important things I do to save time and money while improving the look of my yard and the health of my plants.
How about you?  What kind of mulch do you use?
Be well and happy gardening