Types of Mulch

There are many types of mulch available. While they all will cover the soil in your landscape beds, not all are created equal. The advantages and disadvantages of each type of mulch should be weighed carefully before you commit to a costly and time-consuming application.

A Look At The Types Of Mulch

Mulch provides many benefits, including weed blocking, soil moisture retention and soil temperature moderation. There are many materials used to create mulch and each has its fans. The following information will help you decide which type of mulch is best for you:

  • Cypress - Shredded cypress is inexpensive and attractive, but it is typically harvested from old-growth wetland forests that are slow to re-grow.
  • Pine Bark - Ground pine bark can last for several seasons and is generally inexpensive. Larger pieces can float away in heavy rains, however, and long-term use can lower the pH of your soil.
  • Yard Waste - Yard waste has the twin advantage that it comes at no cost and helps reduce demand local landfills. Ideally, yard waste should be shredded before being placed in the garden. The non-uniform look of yard waste is probably more appropriate for vegetable and back-of-the-bed applications.
  • Wood Chips - Wood chips typically come from hardwood trees and are dyed to a uniform color. Only buy wood chip mulch from a reputable dealer because some wood chip mulch is made from cast-off wood, including pressure treated lumber that is harmful to the environment.
  • Gravel - While not particularly attractive, gravel has the advantage of being long lasting and excellent at keeping weeds under control. Gravel provides no nutrients to the soil, so you'll have to provide fertilizer periodically.
  • River Stones - More decorative than gravel, river stones are long lasting and unlikely to shift or move in heavy rains. Stone mulch can be difficult to keep clean and is heavy when it comes time to renovate your beds.
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