So mulch to write about

Why landscape mulch is recommended and what type to use.

Mulch comes in all types of materials: wood shavings, wood chunks, sawdust, hay, pine needles, and crushed leaves. Even rock can be called "mulch", although it does not biodegrade or help the soil. For small areas, some people use coconut or hazelnut shells as mulch. If you are having a tree cut down, ask to run the branches through a wood chipper as this makes a wonderful mulch.

Why use mulch?

There are several reason that we like to use mulch. Landscaping mulch provides that extra touch -- like brushing on makeup to cover skin imperfection. It hides small weeds, adds color to the landscape, causes other plants and features to stand out, and overall makes a landscape look attractive.

Mulch is also used to hold down landscape cloth so it won't blow away in high winds. Read our recent blog about using landscape fabric and our recommendation about that topic.

Sometimes mulch is helpful at reducing the flow of water and erosion and other times it protects plant roots and serves as source of nutrients.

Which mulch should you use?

When you are covering a large surface where you do not want to add new mulch each year, consider selecting a crushed rock mulch, river stones, pea gravel, or large bark chunks.

Inorganic mulches, like rock or polished glass chips, last a long time (perhaps forever) and are happy to accept high-traffic. They look striking too, but they have their drawbacks. If they get into neighboring garden beds, they make the bed look messy and working with plants becomes more difficult. Inorganic mulches should be used in areas where they will be contained to their own space.

Probably the most important reason we use mulch when landscaping is because mulch is "nature's food". Plants need constant nutrients. Mulch breaks down slowly; therefore, as it decays and become part of the soil, it does not overwhelm the ground water with nitrates. This provides steady nutrients to plant roots over time. Keeping a landscape eco-friendly means reducing the use of synthetic fertilizers and reaching for organic material as often as possible.

Organic mulch, like cedar shavings, is often the preferred choice for both the eco-gardener and garden plants.

We caution the use of hay as a landscape mulch as it may be a weed-carrier rather than a weed barrier. Hay generally contains seeds of grasses and other farm field plants. Straw is much less likely to promote weed growth, but it will degrade faster than wood shavings, shredded bark, or bark chunks. Wood chips need to be quite heavily applied in order to deter weed growth, and re-applied every 1-3 years. A fine bark will allow weeds to settle in after a while as well, but that may take up to a few years.

Ultimately, the type of weed barrier mulch you choose will determine how often you need to replenish it.

For more mulch ideas and landscaping solutions for feeding plants and controlling weeds, contact us by phone, email ( or request a consultation through our website.

Category: Landscape Maintenance

Environmental Construction, Inc.

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