Mulching, in many cases, is the element that decides whether your garden is strong and healthy or looks like something a strong wind from the north whipped together one night. Mulching materials range across a broad gamut that provides an alternative option for everybody. Mulch can be organic or it can be permanent. The choice is yours and it’s largely a matter of taste rather than ultimate effect. Either organic or permanent mulch can help your garden grow.
Don’t bag up your grass clippings after a good mowing with the intent of tossing them by the side of the road for the trash guys to pick up. Instead, put grass clippings to use as mulch for your garden. Grass is an excellent choice because it breaks down quickly and provides a natural look.
Sawdust is a very fine choice for the gardener looking to add mulch on a budget. Sawdust is easy to produce and therefore inexpensive to buy. A downside to using sawdust as mulching material is that it has the potential to deplete your soil’s valuable supply of nitrogen. Other concerns to be aware of are that sawdust in some cases contain plastic debris that it most definitely not healthy for your garden.
Compost is another inexpensive form of mulch. Unlike sawdust, the low price is enhanced by the fact that compost actually feeds your soil rather than taking nutrients away from it. Be aware when using compost as mulch that you will have to replenish your supply a few times during the growing season.
Anyone who has ever spent time in the South knows that pine needles are a fact of life and, in many cases, a very annoying part of owning property. The upside for gardeners is that as a mulching material pine needles can have a lifetime in excess of three or four years. If your region is prone to drought, however, pine needles can become a fire danger when they dry out.
Wood chips are a good mulch material because they break down very slowly. You will want to use age wood chips rather than new wood chips which can also be a nitrogen thief.
Gravel is one of the most effective permanent types of mulch. The darker colored variety of gravel is good for absorbing sunlight and warming up the ground. The lighter colored variety of gravel reflects sunlight and makes the ground cooler. Gravel is a mulching material that is especially effective for dealing with weed growth. The ideal depth for controlling weeds is about two inches.
Straw is quite affordable and is a great choice for mulching in the winter. There is a danger that straw contains seeds that can present a weed threat.
The leaves that gently fall to earth during autumn is prime mulch material when chopped up. When left unchopped, however, there is the ever-present danger of the wind taking them far away from your garden. The best way to chop up leaves that fall during the fall is to run your mower over then with a collection bag attached.