Mulch may be messy, but mulch can also be a gardener’s ally. The trick is to select the right mulch for the particular plantings, soil types and climate. Here are 12 of the most popular mulching materials preferred by many gardeners.
12 Popular Garden Mulches: Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds are super for mulching gardens. Used coffee grounds can be spread on top of garden soil or mixed in for extra acidic balancing. In addition, coffee grounds are ideal for composters, as they appeal to worms, which are essential to organic composting.
12 Popular Garden Mulches: Compost or Manure
Compost makes marvelous mulch. Organic compost may be created at home (using garden and household plant refuse), obtained from a livestock farm (or horse stable) purchased as manure, mushroom compost or similar organic products.
12 Popular Garden Mulches: Grass Clippings
Many gardeners choose to recycle grass clippings as garden mulch. In the garden, grass clippings may be spread 1″ to 2″ deep (if recently cut). Grass clippings may be spread thicker (as mulch), if they have dried out.
Grasses may try to grow in gardens, if seeds and roots are included.
12 Popular Garden Mulches: Landscaping Fabrics
Landscaping fabrics, available at most garden supply centers, may also be used as a form of mulch. These textiles are particularly useful in brand-new garden beds – before plants have been added. Most gardeners do cover landscaping fabrics with a natural mulch for aesthetic purposes.
12 Popular Garden Mulches: Newspapers
Shredded newspapers can become useful garden mulch, although they may not offer the visual appeal of many other mulch choices – particularly as they become damp and mushy with watering.
Gardeners should avoid using chemically treated glossy papers, papers with lots of colorful printing and aluminum foils. These sorts of papers make poor mulch, as they do not break down naturally in the garden.
12 Popular Garden Mulches: Peat Moss
Peat moss is an excellent organic mulch for the garden, adding both moisture retention and nutrition to the soil. Because peat moss is dry and crumbly, most gardeners choose to soak it in a muck bucket or barrel of warm water before adding it to the garden.
12 Popular Garden Mulches: Pine Needles
Pine needles may also be used as garden mulch. Home horticulturalists may find pine needles ideal mulch, as they may be gathered without cost by those who have pine trees in their own yards. A 3″ to 4″ thick layer of dried pine needles makes a helpful mulch.
Pine cones may also be used for mulch, if a sufficient supply exists.
12 Popular Garden Mulches: Rocks or Stone Chips
Brick chips, pea gravel and small stones are popular mulch choices as well, particularly for formal gardens. These mulch options, though generally more expensive than other organic mulches, will not biodegrade. As a result, rock or stone mulch may be used more permanently in the garden.
12 Popular Garden Mulches: Sawdust or Wood Shavings
Sawdust and wood shavings may be used for mulching the garden, although this tends to decompose quickly. However, for gardeners with ready access to wood shavings or sawdust, this may be a ready choice.
12 Popular Garden Mulches: Seashells
Seashells (both saltwater and freshwater varieties) make attractive and intriguing garden mulch.
Of course, seashells must be rinsed to remove salt and slime. A 2″ layer of crushed or solid seashells will last two to three years in the garden. Horticulturists may collect seashells at the shore or ask local seafood stores or restaurants for discarded shells.
12 Popular Garden Mulches: Straw or Hay
Basic straw or hay is also frequently used to mulch gardens. This can be a useful solution, as long as seeds are removed first.
12 Popular Garden Mulches: Wood Chips or Shredded Bark
Wood chips and shredded bark are the most popular mulches for most gardeners. These biodegradable organic mulch products may be made from a variety of woods (such as cedar, pine, redwood or others).
Other Popular Garden Mulches
Creative gardeners may choose from innumerable options of materials for mulching their gardens, depending upon the plants they are growing. Mulch materials may include burlap, carpet strips, cocoa hulls, corn cobs, cottonseed hulls, dead leaves (crushed or shredded), peanut shells, pistachio nut shells, plastic (usually black or clear), shredded papers or even dead weeds (with seeds removed).