Your garden appreciate mulch more than you think. Yes, it looks pretty, unless you’re using the bright red stuff that seems to be surprisingly popular. Who is using that, by the way? Mulch does far more than make your garden beautiful, and many of it’s benefits you’re probably already aware of, but some might surprise you.
In this post, you’ll learn not only how much mulch you need, but what it is really doing for your garden above and beyond keeping your HOA off your back.
#1 Mulch Conserves Moisture
Dramatics swing in solid moisture can stress out your plants and cause poor growth. You want to regulate that moisture so the plants have everything they need and are not competing in a game of survivor. Keeping your garden beds properly mulched can cut down on evaporation by as much as 50% in some cases.
If you’re like most people the costs of water used for irrigation are continuing to rise. With no sign of a decrease in water prices as demand continues to increase using mulch can be a big money saver on your water bill. That means mulch makes your plants happy and your wallet happy. According to GrowVeg.com “mulches help to conserve soil moisture, reducing the amount you have to water by as much as two-thirds.”
#2 Mulch Prevents Weeds
Nobody likes or needs weeds. Let’s all say it together, “Weeds suck!” Then why wouldn’t you mulch regularly rather than having to go through the garden on your hands and knees pulling weeds, or worse, spray weed killer and looking at brown wilted weeds for weeks.
Most professionals recommend mulching to a depth of 2-4 inches annually to prevent weeds effectively. This thick mat of mulch keeps seeds from reaching the dirt and keep the sun off the dirt both of which create inhospitable conditions for weeds to germinate.
#3 Mulch Protects Against Extreme Temps
When the temperature drops some plants can be burned by the cold temps, but if you’ve planted properly for your Hardiness Zone then the plants will be fine; however, if the roots are exposed to these temps you may loose some plants. Mulch keeps the roots warm in the winter and cool in the summer so that they are less affected by temperature swings that can stress them out and cause serious damage to your plantings.
Keep that 2-4 inch thick bed of mulch and even in the coldest or hottest weather extremes your planting will thrive and be protected.
#4 Mulch Can Prevent Pests
Some mulches can attract bugs, but others can prevent them. How do you know which is which? There is always inorganic mulch options like rubber, or stone that certainly won’t attract bugs, but my presence has always been to use either cypress or cedar mulch because they contain a chemical called thujone that deters bugs and also slows down the decomposition process. These mulches can discourage termites, cockroaches, cloth-eating moths, and some kinds of ants.
Another type of mulch to consider especially in the southern states is eucalyptus mulch which has a scent that discourages mosquitos. Speaking as a Floridian gardener this is one of my favorites and I tend to mulch twice a year with Eucalyptus rather than once annually so I get the fresh scent and extra mosquito protection.
#5 Mulch Can Change Flower Color
Certain plants like hydrangeas can have their flower colors manipulated by changing the pH of the soil they are growing in. More acidic soil (under 6.0 pH) will yield blue flowers while a more neutral soil (7.0 pH) will yield pinkish blooms.
While there are plenty of soil additives or fertilizers to accomplish this you can also accomplish this task to a small extent by the type of mulch you use. Pine needles are a popular mulch that can lower the pH of your soil as pine needles are fairly acidic (3.5 pH). They do lose a lot of that acidity as they decompose so don’t worry about burning your plants roots, but they can contribute to maintain that slightly more acidic soil if you want those bold, blue hydrangeas.
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to double down on your mulch application, or at least you won’t neglect to mulch this year. It’s really one of the best things you can do for the long term health and beauty of your garden. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get mulching!
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.