What is the benefit of mulch in your garden?

Mulch applied to your garden is more beneficial than you may have first thought.

The first and most important benefit of mulch in your garden is water conservation. Mulch stops the soil surface from drying out, aiding in plant growth. It also keeps the soil moist, reduces the soil surface from cracking and can reduce watering by about 60 per cent.

Secondly, mulch applied to your garden prevents weed by suppressing weed growth and weed seed germination. This reduced the completion for water and nutrients for your favourite plants and decreases the amount of time spent ‘weeding.’

Many types of mulch add much needed nutrients to the soil when broken down. This improves the soil structure and provides your plants the required tools to flourish in your garden.

Finally, mulch offers a protective barrier from the wind and heavy rain. It reduces the run off and soil movement within your garden bed.

In the past lawn clippings and leaf prunings were used as leaf litter mulch but it is far more beneficial to use a coarser material such as straw or bark. With so many varieties of mulch on the market which is best for your garden?

Pea straw or Lucerne

This form of mulch is ideal for vegetable and rose gardens as applications of nutrients and humus are usually required. This mulch breaks down quickly and needs to be topped up regularly. Unfortunately this form of mulch is rather expensive.

Sugar cane mulch

This is a less expensive form of mulch sold in bales and readily

available. It also breaks down quickly so it is good for soils where improvement is required.

Mushroom compost

This is a great mulch and improves soil. Don’t use it around Camellias and Azaleas as it can often contain lime.

Barks and woodchips

An advantage of the bark based mulches is they take longer to break down so you don't have to apply them as often. It is best used in gardens where immediate soil improvement isn’t required. Use medium to coarse grade bark mulches because they don't absorb any moisture and allow rainfall, or irrigation water, to penetrate the soil where it's needed.

Pebbles and gravel

This is the longest lasting of all mulches. It is great for reducing soil evaporation, although it will not improve soil structure.

The best times to mulch or top up mulch are in early spring and mid-summer. This will ensure that the soil is well covered throughout the warm growing seasons. Contact Eastern Suburbs Horticulture on 0413 328 334 for all your mulching needs.

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