Selecting Mulch for the Garden

August 15, 2016

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Mulch can beautify your garden, suppress weeds, moderate soil temperature and conserve moisture. Consider both function and beauty when selecting mulch for your landscape. 

Organic mulches like woodchips, evergreen needles and shredded leaves help keep the soil cool and moist in summer, suppress weeds and improve the soil as they break down. Wood mulches are great around trees and shrubs and for pathways. Maintaining a two to three-inch layer is all you need.  Research found that woodchips that contain bark, twigs and leaves were more resistant to compaction. The diversity of particle size and decomposition rates creates a more diverse environment that promotes healthy soil and plant growth.

Shredded leaves and evergreen needles are great for perennials, annuals and vegetables. These products look good, break down quickly to improve the soil and do not tie up the nitrogen when incorporated into the soil.

A bit more information:  Avoid placing landscape fabric under organic mulches. As the organic mulch breaks down the fine particles block the pores, impeding air and water flow.  Plus, the compost created above the fabric by the decomposing mulch is the perfect environment for weed seeds to sprout and grow. Do use it under stone mulch to help keep the stones from filtering down into the soil. For more information, see the online brochure Wood Chip Mulch: Landscape boom or bane.

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