Guide to Mulch




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Mulch is a type of material that is placed over soil to improve moisture and enhance fertility. There are many types of mulches both in the organic and inorganic categories and all of them have their specific uses and benefits. By using mulch the correct way, not only can soil and plant health benefit but the artistic appearance of a landscape can be improved. It is important to understand all the different aspects of mulching so that problems such as ‘souring’ of mulch do not occur.
How to Mulch: An article on what mulch is, the objectives of different types of mulch and how to use them.
Mulching Basics - Are You Covered? A look at why you should mulch, the benefits of mulching and what happens if you use too much.
Garden Guides: A step by step guide on how to use mulch in landscaping. A great article for beginners.

Types of Mulch
Generally, mulch can be categorized as organic and inorganic. Organic mulches include deciduous tree leaves such as Cyprus or Pine bark, waste wood, grass clippings, dried leaves, straw, cardboard or even newspaper. Non-organic mulches include rubber from old tires, black plastic, and landscape fabrics. Each type of mulch has its pros and cons and should be selected depending on the objective of mulching. Certain types of mulch are even dyed in various colors so that you can add more character to your landscape.
Love to Know Garden: A list of different types of mulches with a brief description on which mulch to use for different plants.
Orlando Sentinel: An excellent collection of types of mulches with the pros and cons of each.
Mulch â€" The Basis of Any Good Garden: An article on different types of mulches, their pros and cons and where to use which type.
The Different Types of Mulch: Details on different types of mulches with information on the benefits and dangers of each one.
How â€" To Australia: A guide to mulch types with details on the benefits, different types, challenges along with tips and tricks.

How to Mulch
The first step to mulching properly is to select the mulch which best suits the needs of your landscape. Once you select your mulch type the amount of mulch you’ll need will have to be calculated. There is also a specific technique for spreading mulch appropriately which involves slashing the bag while it lays flat on the ground rather than snipping the corner off and pouring it like cereal. If all these steps are carried out carefully and not haphazardly you’re almost guaranteed to have a successful mulching experience.
Gardening Australia: A simple fact sheet on how to mulch.
Horticultural Diagnostic Laboratory (.pdf file): The different types of mulches and their uses along with how to select the right mulch and how to manage the mulching process.
Garden Guide: An excellent step by step guide on how to calculate the amount of mulch you’ll require along with a list of references for different types of mulch.
Weekend Gardener: An article describing the wonders of mulch, general guidelines on how to apply, and detailed descriptions of different types of mulches.
BBC Gardening Guides: A how-to on mulching plants with details on when to mulch and how much to mulch. Also includes a helpful video.

Benefits of Mulching
There are many benefits to mulching. It all depends on the different types of mulch you use, but most types will provide the following benefits:
Maintain soil moisture by reducing evaporation. This means you won’t have to water as frequently which is extremely helpful in hot weather or places which are experiencing a drought.
Improve the fertility of the soil making it easier to grow healthy plants. You’ll also save money on the amount of plant food and manure that you use.
Reduce the growth of weeds making your plants look nicer and provide more space for them to grow. You’ll be able to save time by not having to pull out weeds as frequently.
Make the area look uniform and better cared for and thus improving the overall aesthetic appearance of the area.
Insulates the soil, keeping it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
My Agricultural Information Bank: Information on the different types of mulches with disadvantages, limitations and the effect of mulches on soil and plants.
Savvy Gardener: All about mulch with a focus on the benefits of mulching, types of mulches, when and how often to mulch, and how much to apply.
Garden Stew: A look at the benefits of organic and inorganic mulch types.
Benefits of Mulch (.pdf file): Drought survival 101 â€" how to use mulch to keep your landscape alive during a drought.

What Can Go Wrong
A primary concern of people who are thinking about mulching is what if the mulch goes ‘sour’. This occurs when the mulch is not mixed properly and the lack of rotation of nitrogen causes pockets of increased decomposition. This causes the mulch to smell like vinegar or ammonia. If aired out properly, this processes usually reverses itself and is not a cause for concern. However, if the mulch is distributed without being aired out it will damage or even kill the plants in the area.
Trees are Good: A detailed page on different types of mulch, their benefits and what can go wrong.
Wood Mulch and Tree Health: A look at what wood mulch is and various issues that go along with it including attracting insects and turning sour.
Using Mulches in Managed Landscapes (.pdf file): An informative paper including the different types of mulch, the effect they have, how to mulch, problems caused by mulch and sour mulch.
UMass Amherst â€" Sour Mulches: A description of what exactly causes sour mulch and how to prevent it from occurring.

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