Mulching may be defined as the process of covering the soil surface around the plants to create congenial conditions for the crop growth. It is a long-established horticultural practice that involves spreading a layer of material on the ground around plants to protect their roots from heat, cold, or drought or to keep the fruit clean.
Landscaped beds suppress weeds, retain soil moisture better, and are more drought-resistant than bare ones. They also protect the soil against erosion and reduce compaction during heavy rains. From an aesthetic perspective, a mulched property is more vibrant, has a more polished look and feel and better curb appeal.
Mulch can either be organic or inorganic.
Organic mulches originate from living materials. They can consist of grasses, leaves, straw, shredded bark, pine needles or compost.
Organic mulches help condition the soil, even inviting earthworms to naturally aerate the soil, and help reduce soil compaction. While decomposing, they add nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus and trace elements to the soil. But because they decompose, they will have to be replaced on a regular basis.
There are a few different organic mulch types, such as:
- Hard- and softwood bark
- Municipal yard waste, including trees, leaves, and grass clippings
- Composted animal manure
Organic mulch needs to be replaced frequently as it decomposes and is prone to becoming displaced.
There are several benefits to using organic mulch in our landscape, including:
- Conserves soil moisture by reducing evaporation
- Minimizes soil erosion
- Moderates soil temperatures
- Inhibits weed growth
- Encourages growth of beneficial soil microorganisms
- Reduces the spread of soil-borne pathogens
Inorganic mulches consist of synthetic materials – plastics, landscape fabrics (geotextiles), stones, and rocks. They are generally used because the materials don’t decompose, or only break down after extended periods of time. Thus replacement costs are reduced. While organic mulches are the more preferred choice due to their soil improving qualities, inorganic options have their place.
Gravel and river stone work well for plants that like additional heat and require good drainage. Gravel and river stone are also good choices for purely aesthetic purposes where plantings are few or non-existent. BrightView normally does not recommend plastics and landscape fabrics but in specific situations will. They reduce wind and soil erosion, help warm the soil and radiate heat better than some organic options for certain plantings.
Inorganic mulches are mostly used to create barriers to weeds. While inorganic mulch doesn’t provide any nutritional benefits to soil like organic mulch does, there are still other benefits that come with using it. They include:
- Retains moisture
- Minimal need for replacement
- Low maintenance
- Functionally versatile
- Higher availability in most commercial garden centers
Advice to farmers on the type of mulch to use
When trying to decide which mulch to use, it’s best to see what type of mulch aligns with your landscaping goals. Organic mulch creates nutrient-rich soil that helps plants thrive, while inorganic mulch can last longer. Do you prefer low maintenance mulching or does frequently mulching fit into your schedule?
Overall, organic mulch provides more benefits to your plants, but inorganic mulch doesn’t necessarily harm your plants either. Think about your aesthetic, health, and maintenance goals and define which mulch works best for you.
Mazero agrifood is dedicated to the supply of plastic mulch to our farmers. They are durable and very affordable. We also have a team of qualified personnel who help our farmers in the mulching process. Contact us on 0729777711.