As summer presses on and the temperatures continue to rise, maintaining the soil temperature, moisture, and nutrient health can become a challenge. Many gardeners and landscapers are very familiar with the practice of mulching for weed control and moisture protection; however, there are many more reasons and even more benefits to using mulch.
From highly nutritious, long-term feeding solutions to moisture and temperature control, mulching can be a gardener and landscaper’s best friend. Here are five wonderful ways that mulch can vastly improve your garden today.
1) Mulch is an Organic Nutrient Solution
Aside from inorganic mulching methods like using plastic or landscape fabric, many organic materials can be used for mulch – cut trees, deadfall, leaves, shrubs, pruned flowers and plants, compost, hay, straw, grass clippings, bark, sawdust, and more. Within these organic materials lie the nutrients that once kept these things alive. The nutrients from the mulch feed your garden for the duration of the mulch’s lifetime (approximately five years). Additionally, the nutrient-rich contents within the mulch are the perfect environment for important fungi that prevent unwanted pests and diseases from spreading. Organic matter keeps gardens and landscapes fed, happy, and strong enough to fight against unwanted conditions. For richer nutrient contents, add compost to your mulch!
2) Mulch Maintains Moisture in the Soil
Because mulch provides a strong protective layer over topsoil, mulch will prevent loss of water by slowing down evaporation. Mulch works much like a sponge, absorbing all the moisture it is fed for a long time. Because mulch retains moisture so well, it is incredibly useful in retaining the hydration of the soil. Additionally, moisture creates the perfect habitat for earthworms, which break down organic matter in order to leave nutrients behind. Earthworms need soil about as moist as their bodies and, therefore, cannot live if the soil becomes too wet or too dry. (Smith, 138)
3) Mulch Helps Cool or Warm the Soil as Needed
Depending on the type of mulch used, mulch can either help cool or warm your soil. Mulches like plastic layering or landscape fabrics are the perfect type to warm the soil up in preparation for gardening. Yet, mulches like grass clippings, straw, or seed-free hay work well to cool the soil down. Being able to control the temperature of the soil to any degree greatly alleviates the gardener from the pain of extreme elements. (Smith, 15)
4) Mulch Protects Soil from Compaction by Offering Alternative Walkways
Soil compaction can be a gardener or landscaper’s true enemy. Compaction of the soil not only prevents proper water retention but also prevents proper root growth and causes massive erosion issues. Walking on bare soil in your garden will compact the soil unnecessarily, causing problems in the future. (Smith, 13)
Utilizing mulch as much as you can in the garden or yard will prevent soil from being pressed to compaction. Gardeners ultimately want soil that is deep, nutrient-rich, and easy for roots to penetrate. The healthier the roots, the healthier the plants!
5) Mulch Provides the Perfect Environment for the Fungus Necessary for Plant Life
Fungus like mycelium works as a very intricate web of fungal networks that essentially break organic matter down. Mycelium, while incredibly complex, is basically one of the most important networks of fungi responsible for decomposition, and decomposition is vital for new growth.
However, not only does mycelium break matter down, but it also works much like a human’s nervous system, detecting harmful pests and diseases! Once mycelia detect danger, they will begin to produce chemicals that will help protect them from harm, thus building the soil’s “immune system.” (2)
Contact Premier Nursery Today
When a gardener adds mulch to a yard, they are creating the perfect place for fungus to grow, break down organic matter which will feed plants, retain soil moisture, and better regulate temperature. Mulch is functionally one of the best additions to any garden and is arguably a beautiful alternative to walkways. For more information about how Premier Nursery can supply your garden or yard with mulch, call us today at (817) 685-0932
- Smith, Edward C. The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible. North Adams, MA. Storey Publishing. 2000