Eco-Friendly Gardening: Benefits of Using Mulch to Improve Your Soil Condition
Noticed your soil is a bit dry this growing season? Maybe your plants are not thriving as they should. You know they could grow more plentiful if given the right nutrients. Perhaps you live in a climate where the soil gets cool in the nighttime and valuable heat is escaping into the atmosphere rather than keeping your plants nice and warm. There are ways around these issues and one of the main ones is the use of mulch to improve your soil condition!
What is Mulch?
Mulch is a combination of numerous sources but shouldn’t be confused with compost fertilizer as these have two completely different purposes. Mulch acts as a barrier for your plants against outside elements that could harm or even destroy their natural growing process while also containing nutrients (select types). Fertilizer contains nutrients required for plants to grow strong and healthy and, when combined with the use of mulch, your garden will be bountiful and lusciously green!
Benefits of Using Mulch
So, what are the benefits of using mulch in your soil while planting or maintaining your garden? Let’s narrow down the most common ones:
- Organic mulch will eventually break down and compose itself back into the soil around your garden; providing nutrients and improving the tilth of pre-purchased soil. Organic materials such as wood chips could take longer to break down but they provide a steady source of nutrients to your plants.
- Mulch acts as a reservoir for water and will hold water into the soil for a longer period of time. It slowly lets water into the soil to be absorbed by the roots of the plants which prevents overwatering and drowning of the delicate systems.
- It can protect soil from the drying effects of sun and wind; especially if you live in a hot and humid place. Mulch becomes a barrier between the soil – which protects the roots – and nature’s damaging elements.
- During fluctuations in temperature due to changing seasons, mulch can act as an insulator to help control the overall temperature of the soil. It allows the temperature to stay consistent which reduces damage to the plants caused by hot or cold temperatures. Happy plants equal healthy plants in this case.
- The use of mulch in your garden reduces the number of weeds generally found in the soil. Weeds will soak up and use the nutrients of the soil before the nutrients have time to reach the roots of the plants you actually want to grow. Weeds will also use up water reserves before plants; so, mulch will diminish the growth rate of harmful weeds that could choke out the oxygen sources for your plants.
- Mulch acts as a barrier against other elements harmful to your plants. Seeds for weeds or fast-growing, plentiful plants that could blow from other areas nearby are unable to burrow into the soil of your garden and take root. Most dangerous bugs cannot burrow through mulch without a lot of effort, such as fleas and ticks; so, your plants are less likely to contract any harmful disease from them or suffer from reduced nutrients. These harmful insects can also chew through the leaves of your plants, infect the roots and more.
- Natural pesticides combined with the use of mulch can also reduce the level of bug infestation in your garden. Certain bugs can damage plants and use of the nutrients meant for them. Consult your local gardening center for ways to make your own natural pesticide or purchase premixed, organic solutions.
If you choose to use mulch in your garden, always use a layer approximately two to three inches thick for full effectiveness. You can use mulch during certain growing seasons (for fruits and vegetables) or year-round for permanent plants in your backyard (trees and shrubs).
Mulch can be purchased at any garden center or local nursery in pre-measured bags. You can even narrow down the best mulch for the type of garden you are growing – vegetable versus fruits and shrubs versus flowers. Consult with your local gardening center to determine the best type of mulch you can purchase to improve your soil’s condition or consider making your own!
Mulch can be made from numerous sources such as wood chips, seashells, and even a combination of elements to provide additional barriers. If you are interested in making your own mulch, then definitely do your research so you do not choose materials that are harmful rather than helpful for your plants. Look at investing into a woodchipper to make the process of producing mulch more seamless and use it as a way to get rid of scrap wood that has been hanging around your yard. Doing a little online research can help you find the top-rated wood chippers on the market today and allow you to discover the benefits of having a wood chipper for reasons other than making mulch for your garden.
Drop a bit of mulch in your garden and be prepared to be amazed at the transformation of your flowers and vegetables!
Author Bio: Timothy Moore is the lead editor of Backyard Boss and is a lifelong backyard enthusiast. He grew up immersed in the outdoors, camping every weekend and tending to the backyard with his family. He spends most of his days (and even nights) lounging on the patio while firing up the grill and admiring his handiwork around the property. He spent most of his life watching his father do woodworking and is a self-taught landscaper, doing it mostly as a hobby. Now he uses his vast experience in the field to write a fun, but informative, articles for you good people!