Mulch acts as a protective covering that keeps the nutrients in, improves the condition of the soil and reduces formation of weeds. It helps improve the landscape maintenance since it prevents soil-borne diseases. Although you can make mulch from the confines of your own backyard, store bought mulches can save you time, especially if you need them immediately. However, before you can buy mulch, find out how much you need.
Aside from maintaining the soil’s moisture by reducing the occurrence of evaporation, mulch also keeps the soil warmer during winter and cooler during the hotter seasons. The United States Department of Agriculture also states that mulching effectively controls the germination and growth of weeds and other soil-related diseases. By keeping the nutrients locked in, mulch also improves and enhances soil fertility. It also helps enhance and preserve the aesthetic appearance of landscapes by giving them a more uniformed and stylish look.
Types of Mulches
Mulches come in two forms–organic or inorganic. Inorganic mulches do not decompose and consist of several materials such as different kinds of rocks, crushed rubber and natural or permeable fabrics, to name a few. Organic mulches, on the other hand, decompose at different rate and are made of wood fragments, pine needles, wood barks, leaves, plant compost and several organic matters. Grass clippings, fallen leaves and dead twigs are alternative sources of mulch.
How Much Mulch is Enough?
Nurseries and garden centers sell bulk quantities of mulch in cubic yard volumes. According to the University of Florida, to calculate the amount of mulch you need, measure the area that you’ll cover in mulch in square feet. Then, convert the desired depth in a fraction of a foot. For example, 6 ft divided by 12 ft equal 1/2 ft or 0.50 ft. Multiply the value by the square foot measurement of the area you’re covering. For example, if the area you’re covering measures 100 sq ft, you’ll multiply it by 0.50 ft, which results in 50 cu ft. Then, convert cubic feet to cubic yard by dividing cubic feet by 27. In this case 50 divided by 27 equals 1.85 cu yd, which is the amount you’ll need to cover a 100-sq ft area with a depth of 6 inches.
Ideal Depth for Mulching
Too much mulch can harm the soil and plants. In most cases, mulching to about 2 to 4 inches in depth should be enough to serve its good purpose. Replenish organic mulches based on their decomposition rates. Other mulches, however, such as the cypress mulch, can remain intact for years without any need for replenishment.
The Dangers of Improper Mulching
Excessive mulch also translates to excessive moisture. Too much moisture can put too much stress on the roots, which can cause the plant to die. When mulches pile up on areas near the trunk or stems of the plant, insect infestation and other plant-related diseases may occur. Excessive mulching over prolonged periods of time affects the nutrient composition of the soil itself. The soil can become susceptible to nutrient deficiencies and other forms of environmental toxins. Thick layers of mulch may prevent water and air from penetrating the soil’s surface and promote weed germination and growth. Some types of mulches give off sharp and overpowering odors and acid content that may damage young or new plants.
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