Mulching is definitely an excellent method ensure that your landscape stays looking healthy and stunning. But you need to be cautious when doing it, because if you choose the wrong mulch or use it heavily you may end up having a variety of issues including poor drainage roots, root rot, disease and the growth of weeds (among others). You can stay clear of these issues and achieve success by following some simple guidelines:

Mulch Material

The most effective mulch to increase soil structure and fertility is organic matter, such as straw or leaves that have been composted. It aids in adding nutrients, boosts soil microbial activity and increases its capacity to retain water and air. There are a variety of reasons to increase water and air retention in soils when we mulch.

A healthy soil that’s well-drained and well-aerated has a lower chance be soiled, which can lead to root rot as well as other fungal diseases. Additionally, soils that are better aerated is more likely to absorb the excess water rainwater, thereby preventing erosion. It will also mean less weeds because the water doesn’t sit on surface of soil so often and sunlight will be able to penetrate the mulch and down to the roots of the plants instead of reflecting back onto the leaves (which could cause them to grow more quickly). Fourthly, it’ll mean healthier plants since they’ll be able to access nutrients that are released by decomposed organic matter in the topsoil as well as lower levels of subsoil.

The drawback to using organic matter as a mulch is that it degrades rapidly, meaning you’ll have apply it more frequently than other mulches.

Inorganic materials like gravel, rocks, or plastic are great mulches, however they don’t provide any nutrients to the soil , and they are a little more costly.

A crucial thing to consider when using mulches made of inorganic materials is that they need to be weed-free prior to spreading them. If not, you’ll creating the perfect habitat for the growth of weeds.

Types of Good Mulch

Organic Mulches:

  • Composted Leaves
  • Straw
  • Wood Chips
  • Bark Mulch
  • Cocoa Shells

Composted Leaves

Composted leaves are a great mulch. They are rich in soil nutrients as well as organic matter, while improving drainage and soil structure. Because they are able to break down rapidly they’ll likely need to apply them more frequently than other types of materials. However, the advantages of using composted leaves generally exceed the cost.

The most popular method to get them is to use a rake in the fall after they’ve fallen from the trees and onto your lawn or in your garden. Some cities offer a specific day where you can leave big items in their garbage bins to get a free mulch pick up (like an event similar to one I’ve read about here). It is also possible to reach the local landscaping businesses and ask if they provide this service, since it will cost the company money to remove the leaves (and it’s cheaper to dispose of them at your home).

A different way to collect mulch is to gather leaves that fall from the trees that surround your home and take them back to your to your home. You can also get acquainted with the owner of the tree service and collect their piles while they take them (mine was almost offering his huge heap of leaves). If you choose this option I suggest screening out those “trash” leaves before spreading the remainder over your lawn. It’s because some people simply throw whatever is lying around in their piles, which results in a lot of tiny pieces of sticks, and other rubbish that make more work than it’s worth.

Plastic Bag Mulch

Another type for organic mulch particularly for newly planted shrubs and trees, is organic materials that are contained in plastic sandwich or trash bags. The concept is to mix your compost or other mulch in water till it’s like a thick soup (which improves its effectiveness in keeping weeds out) Then, put the “slurry” into black plastic garbage bags and spread the bags on top of the garden bed (either in one go or separated into sections). The slurry will drown existing weeds and stop new ones from sprouting as well as adding moisture and nutrients in the soil.

Another major benefit of the use of this mulch is that it can easily take it off afterward by simply removing some of the bags edges, and pulling away the mulch layer beneath (in the sense of turning each bags inside-out). The plastic bag is left intact, allowing you to reuse it time and time repeatedly.


Another organic mulch that is popular is straw. It’s easy to spread it keeps the soil moist and isn’t prone to breaking down. The only downside is that it is somewhat more costly than other types of materials.

There are two kinds of straws available: either wheat or Oat. The wheat straw is typically somewhat more costly, however it is a bit longer-lasting than the straw made of oat. The straw of oats is much more vulnerable to weed growth, however it’s also less difficult to locate and generally less expensive.

A way to acquire straw without the need to buy it is to cut from the tops of wheat or oats as they sprout in your garden throughout the summer. Make sure you make this cut when the plants are dry to avoid spreading fungal disease to your plants.

Wood Chips

It’s a great mulch for walkways and raised gardens because it’s simple to distribute and does not compress easily. It also absorbs water quite well, however it’s not an effective deterrent to weeds. Because wood chips be able to break down very quickly when left alone It is recommended to use them along with other mulches (like straw).

One of the biggest drawbacks is that certain varieties of plants dislike having their roots exposed mulches like composted leaves or wood chips. This means that you’ll get less vegetables than you’d like to at harvest time. If you’re planning to use wood chips for your main mulch, make sure you do some digging to determine which plants would thrive in this setting and which ones will not.

Organic mulches can be created out of a range of materials such as straw, leaves, compost or woodchips. The most popular method to obtain organic mulch is to collect it up from your local garbage dump or calling to landscaping firms. There is also a way to pick up leaves when they fall off trees that are in your area. Another kind of organic mulch are organic material that is found in plastic sandwiches or garbage bags. Straw is another well-known organic mulch. It’s easy to put in and keeps the soil moist and isn’t prone to breaking down rapidly. Wood chips are an excellent mulch for gardens with raised beds and walkways because it’s simple to apply and does not compress easily. Additionally, it absorbs moisture quite effectively, however it’s not an effective deterrent to weeds.

Inorganic Mulches:

  • Rocks
  • Gravel
  • Plastic Sheeting


The most well-known inorganic mulches is rock. They come in a range of sizes and shapes, they’re easy to install and last for an extended period of time. The biggest drawback is that they are costly, particularly if you have a huge garden.

Another thing to consider to consider is the weight and size of rock. If you’re planning to put them on the top or in an established garden, you must make sure that the soil beneath can hold this mass (otherwise you’ll end having sunken beds or broken plants).


Similar to the rocks like gravel, gravel is an extremely popular mulch made of inorganic material due to its durable properties and easy application. It’s also less expensive than rocks, which makes it a budget-friendly choice.

The primary drawback to gravel lies in the fact it does not retain moisture well, which means it will require more often in comparison to the other kinds of mulches. It can also attract seeds of weeds, and it is important to be cautious regarding getting rid of the weeds.

Plastic Sheeting

One advantage that plastic sheets offer for mulch is it’s simple to set up. Simply unroll it, then fix it down using stakes or rocks. It will last for several years, which makes it an economical option over the long haul.

The main drawback is that it doesn’t permit air or water to get into it, and this may slow the growth of plants. It’s also a home for pests , and it can be an absolute nightmare to eliminate after you’ve made the change.

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