Got Mulch? Our top 5 benefits of mulching in your garden.
Mulching is one of the best things that you can do to improve the overall health of your garden. In short; it is the process of placing a protective barrier around your plants and over your soil. In nature, this barrier is simply fallen leaves and plant debris. In the garden this barrier can be made of compost, wood chips, manure, cardboard or even seaweed.
Healthy beds are mulched beds.
There are many benefits to mulching, here our the Easy Peasy top 5:
- In a South African context this is very important as we move towards summer. Mulch helps to slow down moisture evaporation so that water remains in the soil and is readily available for your thirsty plants. This means less watering and also less water bill.
Prevents Soil Erosion
- Not only does the mulch hold the water in the soil, it prevents rain water from washing away your precious soil. It does this by lessening the force of falling water hitting the ground. It also prevents crusting or compaction of the soil surface which can lead to unnecessary run off.
Natural Weed Control
- Mulch limits the amount of sunlight that can find its way down to the weeds that want to grow in your soil. This lack of direct sunlight limits their growth, the natural way.
Improves Soil Quality
- If you are using an organic mulch, this will add a slow release of nutrients into the soil as the organic material decomposes on top of the soil. Microbes and insects in the soil will also naturally consume the mulch over time adding the by-products back to the soil in the form of organic matter and eventually humus.
Polishes up your garden
- Mulch instantly adds rich colour and a manicured look to your garden beds by filling in the empty spaces. Grasses and other ground covers can take extensive care and will compete for nutrients in the soil. Mulch is easy to care for and doesn’t compete with your other plants.
Above: The Jardim family garden looking very neat and manicured with some mulch in the beds and on the pathways.
The list of benefits can go on much longer but these are the top 5 that we believe to be the most important in maintaining a healthy garden. There are however one or two things you will also need to watch out for
A few things to consider
- Too much mulch (deeper than 8cm) can bury & suffocate plants. Do not over mulch
- Do not create ‘Mulch Volcanos’ around the base of your plants as this can encourage rot and give other pests easy access to your plants. It can also bake your plants in the heat of summer.
Above: Efficient use of wood chips at the Easy Peasy Nursery in Mitchells Plain.
What type of Mulch to use & where to find it?
Mulch can come in many different forms from wood chips and rock mulches to synthetic mulches. To get the most benefit for your soil you will want to go with the wood variety. Wood chips are easy to find, have many benefits for your soil and look great in the garden. You can also make use of compost, grass cuttings, pine needles or shredded leaves.
Wood chips can be found at your local Garden Centre, Community Gardens or even just by speaking to your local garden service or tree felling company. Anyone with access to a wood chipper is gold in the Mulch World. You may even get lucky by visiting the local garden refuse dumps, where sometimes the compost chippers are at work. Just take a bucket or three!
Above: Always be prepared with some extra boxes and tubs to gather some mulch when the wood chipper is in town.
When it comes to sprucing up your garden and improving the environment for your plants in a short space of time adding a layer of mulch is an easy and quick solution. Easy Peasy!