What is Mulch?
Mulch is considered one of the final and most important steps for layering your raised garden bed. The benefits of adding mulch to your garden beds include moisture retention, limited weed growth, and improved soil structure to name a few! However, depending on your local climate and what you’re growing, certain mulches fair better than others.
Mulches come both in synthetic and organic options and can oftentimes be collected from your very own backyard or purchased in your local garden center.
Organic mulch varieties can range from pine needles, grass clippings, straw, shredded bark, and shredded leaves. Over time these organic options will decompose and add to the overall organic content in your garden bed. Depending on where you place your garden bed, 2-3 inches of organic mulch is best, however, if your garden is in a non-shaded area, up to 5 inches may be suitable.
Each organic mulch option has its benefits and its precautions. Straw, for example, is an inexpensive mulching option that does an amazing job at retaining moisture and temperature, however, it does not offer nutrients and if purchased without caution may have weeds.
Pine needles on the other hand are primarily suitable for acid-loving plants. Dry leaves offer excellent nutrients for any plant, but can also develop a bad scent when left moist and unshredded.
An effective method for preventing weeds is the use of inorganic mulch options. Unlike organic, inorganic mulch has its drawbacks, such as being non-degradable and difficult to remove. However, when used effectively with a long-term plan can be a visually appealing choice that can beautify your backyard.
Black Landscape Tarp
A black landscape tarp is an excellent choice in preventing weeds from sneakily sprouting up. However, setting up a tarp would require a layer of mulch above not only to look aesthetic but to compact weeds underneath as well.
Often combined with a black landscape tarp, gravel can serve as a beautiful look in many backyards, however, there are some drawbacks. Gravel serves best for walk-way purposes, and when planted too close to your veggies can cause them to be overheated. Although gravel can certainly prevent weeds, it is best used for decorative purposes.
Key Note: Heat-loving plants however may benefit greatly from black fabric, whereas cold-loving plants will grow best with organic mulch.
We hope you enjoyed reading our suggestions for mulch options in your garden! For more great backyard farming tips, visit our helpful blog posts written to help backyard farmers, like you, succeed.
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