Mulching 101 How to mulch your garden and what mulch to choose

Jan 18, 2021 | California Gardening, Composting, Container Gardening, Garden How-Tos, Raised Bed Gardening, Seed starting, Vegetable Gardening

Mulching may be the single most improvement initiative you can take to improve the health of your plants in the garden. In today’s episode we look at what is mulching, and why it?s important to add mulch to your garden.

What is mulch? Any medium that you use to cover up your soil is mulch.

Mulch can be organic – which means it consists of something that was living at some point, like straw, wood, bark, etc. They decompose slowly over a period of time to add nutrients to the soil. Inorganic mulch includes stones, pebbles, rubber, dead material which are generally used for aesthetic purposes in parks and recreational areas.

Different mulch mediums

Different mulch mediums

One of the most important reasons for mulching is to prevent water loss from evaporation during summers, to keep the soil cool, and to keep the soil around your plants warm during winters.

Plants protected with mulch

Plants protected with mulch

The other benefit of mulching with organic matter is that it eventually breaks down into essential nutrients that is beneficial to plants. Mulching around the base of a tree also prevents physical damage to the tree from moving equipment like grass trimmers and/or lawn movers

Using inorganic mulch is a good choice if you want to improve the aesthetics of your garden while keeping pests and insects at bay. White pebbles provide an excellent barrier for conserving water while giving an aesthetically pleasing look to your garden. Wood chips, dried leaves and grass, compost, straw, and hay are some great medium to use as organic mulch.

Wood chips, give an excellent look to your garden, while providing all the benefits of mulching. Wood chips are readily available in any garden store. Specialty mulch like pine bark are not only great looking, but also provide excellent nutrition benefits to your soil as well.

Wood chips mulch

Wood chips mulch

Dried leaves and grass – One of the easiest and cost-effective ways to mulch your garden is by using dried leaves and grass clippings from your garden. Collect all the dried leaves which are an excellent source of nutrition. Dried leaves may even have beneficial fungi and bacteria which is excellent for your soil. The leaves and plant clippings will eventually break down into organic matter and feed your plants.

Compost – One of the best mulch medium that you can use in your garden is compost. You can make compost easily at home in a tumbling composter or you can buy bagged compost at your garden center. Compost adds a lot of beneficial nutrients into your soil, while providing an effective barrier for better moisture control. Add in worm castings to your compost for even better results.

Straw or hay – One of the most versatile and cheap options, straw or hay like this EZ Straw bale can be purchased at your local tractor supply or farm supply store. It?s cheap and one bag covers a lot of area. They usually include a tacking agent, which basically helps the straw stick to the soil surface and prevents it from being flown away during high winds. This is critical for seed germination. Straw mulch does a great job of protecting seeds and tiny seedlings from harsh sunlight in summer and extreme cold/frost during winters.

straw mulch

Straw mulch

To learn more watch todays episode at Mulching 101 How to mulch your garden and what mulch to choose

1 Comment

  1. Erinn

    Very informative- I didn’t know that some hay/straw comes with tacking agent. A good idea! I’ve always shied away from straw because of the blowing-away factor.


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