When choosing a mulch for your garden you need to consider a couple of things:
- What type of plants you have
- The area being mulched
- Whether you prefer an organic mulch or an inorganic mulch.
Advantages and disadvantages All mulches will assist in slowing down moisture loss and suppressing weed growth and there are advantages and disadvantages to both.
- Organic mulches include barks, wood chips, Eucy mulch, forest fines and blend and coloured wood chips. Being natural, they decompose over time to add nutrients to the soil.
- Pine bark mulches are well suited to formal gardens as they tend to be more consistent in colour and shape.
- Hardwood Chip and Cypress tend to be longer lasting and will not need to be replaced for up to 3 years however you may wish to top up earlier for aesthetic reasons.
- ANL’s Forest Fines and Forest Blend are excellent for sloped areas as they matt together stopping the mulch from moving down a slope. These are also long lasting and will not need to be replaced for up to 3 years, while Eucy mulch is ideal for pathways and bushland settings because of its natural look it is not as long lasting because of its finer texture and may need to be topped up on a more regular basis although it should last for up to 2 years.
- Colour enhanced mulches such as red wood chip and midnight mulch are long lasting at up to 3 years and add a contrasting colour accent to any formal garden. Coloured mulches are great for brightening up that dull spot in your garden or highlighting a feature plant or artistic piece and providing a strong colour contrast to the foliage.
how to apply mulch to your garden
Mulches should be applied to your garden at a depth of 75mm or no less than 50mm thick for optimal performance. At this depth it will give you weed suppression and excellent water holding capacity stopping evaporation from the soil. Consider your soils natural characteristics before applying any mulch to your garden. It is recommended that you consider applying a fertiliser to your soil before adding mulch, to ensure adequate plant nutrition. If you have a heavy clay soil you may need to improve the drainage in the soil. The addition of a sandy loam type soil will help in this situation. However, if you have a water repellent sandy soil you need to improve the water holding capacity, this can be done with the addition of a good Organic Garden Mix. Over time and during drought conditions soils can become water repellent and water will not soak into the soil but run off depriving plants of water. To correct this before applying mulching there are two things that you can do, either;
- Add organic material such as Greenlife Mulch and Compost or Nitro Humus and incorporate this into the soil creating 25% per volume of compost to the existing soil. Adding organic matter to the soil acts like a sponge holding moisture in the soil and helping the water penetrate deeper into the soil promoting deep plant root growth and development.
- Or, you can add a wetting agent. A wetting agent is a detergent based product which breaks the surface tension of the soil and helps the water soak into the soil this can also be done in conjunction with adding organic matter for excellent results. After doing this be sure to water in well and keep watering for one week to re wet up the soil and keep your garden growing.
types of inorganic mulches
Inorganic mulches such as gravel and pebbles are longer lasting but don’t contribute nutrients or soil conditioning features to the soil. However, they are the best soil insulators because they don’t break down. They keep soil warmer for longer, promoting helpful bacteria and can sometimes extend the growth period of your plants.
If you’re still wondering which mulch is right for your garden, feel free to consult one of our friendly ANL staff members or read our Garden Mulch FAQs article to find out other handy hints for gardeners.