More About Mulching

Mulch is any material that is spread over the soil as a covering. Reasons for applying mulch include conservation of soil moisture, improving fertility and health of the soil and reducing weed growth. In nature, plants that require mulch will grow where mulch, such as leaf litter, is available, and plants that don’t need mulch will grow where mulch is absent. Generally, healthy yards don’t need mulch. But, as a landscaper you often have to work with an unnatural situation: sun loving grass planted under trees, or woodland plants in dry and compacted soil. Some issues can be solved with the use of mulch. First we need to understand what mulches are available.

Why Mulch?

The first choice for a planting bed are good plants, good soil and compost and if available natural mulch like fall leaves. Commercial mulches can be good solutions for pathways, playgrounds. Used hay or wood chips from a cut tree can be used as well. If you have nutritionally depleted, poor or compacted soil, but you have no compost available to amend the soil, then mulches can be a good temporary solution to create protection and to restore the soil.

Create pathways and terrasses

To restore woodland plantings

To decompose and create humus

To help decomposition of tree stumps

To remove turf and create planting beds

For weed suppression in vegetable gardens

The Problem With Too Much Mulch

Some industries produce wood chips as a by-product, so wood chips are easy available. The biggest problem with wood chips, and other heavily applied mulches is that, not only do they prevent weeds, but they also smother plants with soft stems, and prevent plantings from spreading. The abundance of the use of wood chips has resulted in an omnipresent landscaping feature: trees and shrubs surrounded by wood mulch but absent of plants and flowers. This type of landscaping isn’t very appealing, but more important, it offers very little opportunity for pollinators or insect-eating birds.