Allot to Learn: Mulching

Welcome back to Allot to Learn. If you are looking to make the most of your garden, supporting your soil is vital, and mulching is of interest for many gardeners. This guide aims to inform you of mulching, its benefits and the types of mulching you can choose from.

What is mulching?

If you have an interest in gardening, it is likely that you are familiar with the term mulching, but do you know what mulching is? Thankfully, mulching is often a straightforward process that is simple to do. Mulching is often based on using leftovers found in your garden or allotment to cover up any bare soil that is in your garden, however can involve other materials.

Mulching will often include grass clippings, leaves and even shredded trees. In the current climate, there is a desire to recycle items and use leftovers wherever possible, so mulching is an option that is favoured by a growing number of gardeners.

You should find that mulching is of benefit to people keen to return nutrients and organic materials to their soil. There is also the added benefit that sees mulching minimising the likelihood of weeds growing in your garden area, and it can limit the growth of grass at your allotment.

Although you should consider suitable areas in your garden where a mulch can be placed, many gardeners find that mulch is ideal for placing around shrubs and the base of trees, as well as over growing areas during the winter months.

What are the benefits of mulching?

There are many benefits of mulching, including:

  • Mulching can protect your soil from challenging environmental conditions, such as freezing temperatures
  • Mulching prevents weeds from growing
  • Your soil will retain a greater level of moisture with mulching
  • Mulching can minimise the likelihood of soil being eroded
  • You can improve the condition of your soil with mulching
  • You can grow healthier plants with mulching
  • Mulch will act as a fertiliser
  • You can reduce the amount of watering you need to do when you mulch
  • Mulch can be added to raise bed levels as it rots down.

The fact that mulching offers so many significant advantages and benefits means that all gardeners should look to add this process to their activities.

What is natural mulching?

As an organic and natural solution, natural mulching adds nutrients to your soil, making it healthier and you don’t need to remove natural mulch, as it decomposes over time. This often contains grass cuttings, straw, hay, wood chippings, leaf mold or manure. Often this is layered onto the soil during the autumn and winter months to rot down into the soil, however can also be used around plants throughout the growing season. If doing the latter you must remember to leave space between the mulch and the plant stems, especially when using manure, as the high nitrogen levels can kill plants. On top of this, wood chip from pine trees has toxins in which can kill young plants as well.

What is synthetic mulching?

Synthetic mulching consists of man-made materials, such as black plastic film or recycled tyres. If you don’t have many natural leftovers in your garden, you may have to turn to synthetic mulching and there will be some people who prefer this solution.

A strong benefit of synthetic mulching is that it warms the soil more effectively, and if this is a key aim of your mulching activities, this may be the ideal solution for your needs. However, during the summer months, synthetic mulching may lead to your soil overheating.

Another benefit of synthetic mulching is that it doesn’t attract as many insects, and if you have plants or trees that are damaged by certain bugs, this type of mulching will better protect your garden.

While there are benefits associated with synthetic mulching, be aware that it doesn’t decompose, so you will need to remove it at some point, and synthetic mulch may contain wire or other sharp objects, which could be a danger.

There are plenty of options when it comes to mulching and you should consider what the best option for your needs is. However, there is no denying that mulching is a brilliant way to get the most from your garden.