Most people often associate mulch with wood but it can actually range from a variety of organic materials such as bark mulch, grass clipping, straw, and even compost. Continue reading to learn the different mulch varieties and best mulch installation practices.
Bark Mulch Uses and Varieties
Bark mulch is derived from hardwood or softwood that varies in color and appearance. It is shredded into small or large pieces to better suit your needs. Double shredded bark mulch is traditionally used as a weed deterrent that also assists in moisture retention. It can also be used for shock absorption in playgrounds.
Bark Mulch Installation Tips
Bark mulch is an excellent weed barrier that can enrich the soil as it degrades but it is important to take precautions when spreading it near trees and plants. The weight of the mulch can stifle plants or intensify dampness near tree trunks and increase the possibility of rot. We recommend placing 2 to 3 inches of mulch in these areas. In terms of longevity, mulch can rapidly degrade near any soil and this can be curtailed by adding a weed barrier fabric between the soil and mulch.
Straw Mulch Installation and Use
Straw mulch is a less heavy option that is ideal for more delicate plants. A layer of straw mulch inhibits weed growth and protects your garden from erosion. It can also be used as an added protective layer in combination with other mulch materials. Straw mulch can be spread up to 6 to 8 inches around plants since it is light and airy.
Compost Installation and Use
Compost mulch is made out of organic material that can be added as a top dressing for vegetable and flower beds. You can add 2 to 4 inches of compost over the soil and around plants. Compost not only curtails weeds but also nurtures the soil in preparation for the growing season. As rain runs through the layer of compost, tiny amounts of nitrogen and carbon are washed downward into the soil.