Generally speaking, mulch is any kind of covering placed either around or in lieu of plants with the purpose of:
- preventing weeds
- retaining soil moisture
- regulating soil temperature
- controlling erosion
- amending the soil (for some organic mulches only)
- Preventing the soil-based disease from infecting plants
- drawing in beneficial organisms
- keeping fruits and veggies grown for an appearance off the ground, thus preventing blemishes
Mulches come in two categories: organic and synthetic. Organic mulches are the most common. While you can use a lot of creativity when choosing an organic mulch material, some of the best choices are:
- shredded leaves
- grass clippings
- cocoa hulls
- pine needles
- wood chips
- crushed seashells
Synthetic mulches are less common and can be more expensive up-front but do not need to be replaced nearly as often as their organic counterparts. Some common synthetic mulch materials are:
- black plastic
- landscaping fabric
- rubber pellets
- newspaper (although since this one is made from trees, you might consider it to be more organic than synthetic)
The type of mulch you choose will entirely depend on your intended application. High-traffic areas will benefit more from synthetic mulches that can stand up to the constant crushing. If you are determined to use organic mulch for a high-traffic area, stone or crushed seashells will be your best option.
Soil that needs amendment, or the addition of nutrients and other reparative elements, will benefit more from organic mulches. Organic mulches break down over time and add their nutrients to the soil underneath, making them healthier over time. Some organic mulches are more aesthetically pleasing than others, so think about that when deciding what to place out in front of your home.
Grass clippings are cheap and readily available, but do you want them decomposing around your expensive rose bushes that you’ve spent hours nurturing? Probably not. Projects that call for a “wow” factor (like those time-consuming rose bushes) will be better served with straw, hay, pine needles, or bark, which are available in various colors and gives a cleaner curb appeal.
No matter what type of project you’re planning, there’s a mulch out there to meet your needs! There’s really no limit to the materials you can choose from, and the results will undoubtedly look better than just the plain ground. Play around with your options to give your space a customized design that also benefits the soil underneath. Not sure what to choose? Call the experts from Oasis Palms & Landscaping at (813) 370-1135, and we’ll guide you through all your options to be sure you pick the best mulch for your project and budget.