Organic Gardening Mulch

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Wood mulch helps keep trees and other plants healthy.

There are many different varieties of organic gardening mulch to keep your garden moist and weed-free. Choosing organic mulch is a great way to protect your plants without harming the environment.

Why Mulch?

Mulching is a good idea for most plants, trees and shrubs.

  • Mulch helps hold moisture in the soil, meaning that you'll have to water less often than you would if the ground were bare around your plants.
  • Mulch can inhibit weed growth in your garden, saving you time and effort while blocking out plants that would compete with the plants you're trying to grow.
  • Mulch keeps the soil cool in the summer and warm in the winter, putting less stress on your plants.
  • Mulch helps prevent compaction of the soil around the plants, making it easier for your plants to grow strong roots.
  • Mulch can help prevent soil from splashing back onto the plants when you water. Soil splashing can allow diseases that are in the soil to get on your plants.

Depending on what kind of organic gardening mulch you choose, it can also improve the look of your garden and maybe even add nutrients to the soil.

Types of Organic Gardening Mulch

All sorts of organic materials can be used as mulch for your garden. You may even have some organic mulching materials lying around and not know it. Here's a quick rundown of the most popular organic mulch materials:

  • Bark and wood chips: Chips and bark from trees may be in various sizes. A layer of two to three inches of mulch is effective for blocking weeds. As the chips decompose, they leech nitrogen from the soil, which may need to be replaced with fertilizer. Wood chips can also attract (or bring with them) termites, which could damage your house.
  • Grass clippings: Grass clippings that are not full of weed seeds can be used as a weed blocker, and their rapid decomposition adds nutrients to the soil. Make sure you only use organic products on the lawn if you are going to use the clippings in your garden.
  • Straw: Though it's not very pretty, straw adds nutrients to the soil as it decomposes. It breaks down very rapidly, so you will have to replenish it through the growing season. Don't use hay for mulch, as it is usually full of weed seeds.
  • Leaves: Fallen leaves are a good weed blocker, but it's a good idea to shred them a little bit with your lawn mower before applying them to the garden. They should be in medium-sized pieces. Whole leaves blow away and very finely shredded leaves don't let water through. Leaves add nutrients as they decompose and make your garden pretty and natural. Just dig the leaves into the soil as they decompose and add more to the top.
  • Pine bark: Pine bark is pretty and a good weed blocker, but like other wood products it can attract termites. It is available in a variety of sizes, from shreds to nuggets. Large pieces float and may wash away in a heavy rain, however.
  • Pine needles: A wonderful choice for acid-loving plants, pine needles are also a good choice for slopes or locations where other mulches might wash away. The needles tend to interlock, making them more stable while still allowing moisture, air and nutrients through.

Buying Organic Mulch

If you don't happen to have the materials in your yard for organic gardening mulch, you should be able to find it quite easily at your local garden center. If you happen to have a local store that specializes in organic gardening, that should be your choice for buying your mulch. While all garden supply places sell "organic" mulch, what they mean is that it is from living materials. This does not mean that the mulch is made without chemicals.

As interest in organic gardening grows, there are more products available that are truly organic. If you can't find them at your local garden supply, ask for them to start carrying such products.

Mulch is not something you really want to have shipped to you because of the expense. If you can find it locally or convince someone to carry it locally, that is truly your best option. And, there will be more organic products available as more people like you buy organic products in your area.

Organic Gardening Mulch