Mulch Types: Which is Right?

When we think of mulch, many times we imagine a wooden chip type of material.  This may be finer or it may be larger bark chips.  These are certainly mulch types but there are many more.  In any case, mulch is really nothing more than a material that can keep moisture in the soil and prevent evaporation from happening as quickly.  Also, depending on the type of mulch, it may also inhibit weed growth as well.

This is a common question. It depends on what you are looking to do with it. There is also an aesthetic property of mulches. As such, you need to consider the overall look you want to achieve, in addition to the function the mulch will serve. In the case of the most common wood chip or bark chip mulch, shades of brown are easy to find. There are also reds and other hues now available. These are great for a variety of applications around garden beds, immature trees and flower beds. They can also be used in applications like container gardening. In fact, this is where you’ll find other types of mulch as well.

Which Type of Mulch Do I Need?

Beautify and protect your landscape with the finest quality mulch. Natural forest products – no waste wood – come in a variety of color and textures. Scotts Mulch helps to maintain moisture, prevent weeds, and create a groomed landscape all year long. Naturally prevents weeds, Provides organic matter that helps condition the soil for better plants. This product is specifically formulated for use around ornamentals (flowers), shrubs and trees. Plant first, then mulch. It may be used in organic gardens. This product can be applied at any time of the day or year. Decorative mulching can be done at any time. Protective mulching, for weed suppression and moisture retention, is best done before the late spring growing season and the intense summer heat. We recommend watering before applying mulch. Mulch will help retain water around the plant roots and in the soil, which is beneficial to plants and shrubbery. We do not have a weather guarantee. A 2 cu ft bag will cover the following:–At a depth of 2 inches, 12 sq. ft of bedding area; –At a depth of 3 inches, 8 sq. ft. of bedding area; –At a depth of 4 inches, 6 sq. ft. of bedding.

Types of Mulch

You can divide mulch varieties into two categories:  organic and inorganic.  Organic includes anything that was once living; pine needles, bark chips, grass clippings, straw, etc. This type of material is great as it also adds to the minerals and vitamins your plants and flowers need to grow.  They do get absorbed into your landscape over time, so they should be replaced as frequently as possible to maintain their effectiveness.

Inorganic materials are things like gravel, pebbles, plastic and landscape fabric materials and even recycled rubber mulch now exists.  This is a newer material and it is not ‘time tested’ as of yet.  However, since it doesn’t decompose, it will never need to be replaced.  This would be great for playground areas or in places where you will be interested more in filling space rather than growing plants or trees.  Depending on your application, different mulches will be necessary.

Environmentally friendly, recycled rubber mulch eliminate expensive repeat applications for at least 10 years. Nonabrasive, clean, nontoxic. Attractive UV-protected colors, looks like wooden mulch.

We’ve discussed the bark chip type.  For a more modern or semi-permanent solution, you can use fine gravel, pebbles or stones.  These also come in a variety of hues, sizes and finishes.  For a Japanese type of garden, bamboo can be grown in areas with a smooth black rock mulch.  This gives a very Zen garden feeling to the space.  Combined with a pergola and you’ve got yourself a nice and simple little backyard peaceful retreat.

Pebbles and stone also work well in pots on a patio garden where cacti and other arid or semi-arid plants are grown.

A nice little table top cactus garden with a pebble mulch.

Palms and cacti do well with this type of mulch.  They require less water than other type of plants and the look of the stone will give you a more natural feeling to your garden design.

photo credit

For a virtual mulch encyclopedia, visit the Savvy Gardener.  As you search around for the best mulch types for your needs, keep in mind that topsoil prices can be prohibitive in many cases.  The more you can use mulch to help with soil erosion issues, the happier you and your landscape will be.

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