Mulch - What is it and why use it?

What is mulch?

Simply defined, mulch is a covering placed over soil. Various materials can be used as mulch depending on the desired application and effect. Everything from grass clippings to cardboard to rocks can be used to blanket the ground.

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Depending on the material used as mulch, there can be many advantages. These may include:

  •     help prevent soil erosion
  •     suppress weeds
  •     increase soil temperature
  •     conserve water - reduce evaporation
  •     improve soil texture
  •     add nutrients to the soil
  •     decorative - adds appeal to the yard
  •     less cultivation of the soil
  •     can provide a pathway to walk on
  •     may be a deterrent to animals, pests and bugs
  •     encourages favorable soil microbial activity and worms
  •     time saving - the areas mulched don't need as much attention


Mulching can also have some disadvantages as well. Again choice of material used will play a part in these:

  •     cost of materials
  •     the need to top off periodically
  •     weed seeds can be spread
  •     it may provide cover for slugs - which can destroy peas and carrots
  •     moist organic mulch can cause rotting at the base of many plants

If you are unsure of which mulch would best suit your particular needs, it may be a good idea to discuss these concerns with your landscaper or a gardening expert.