Use Mulch to Lower Your Garden Maintenance

Patsy Bell Hobson shares information on how to use mulch to lower your garden maintenance, includes types of mulch for the garden, how mulch reduces watering and weeding and decreases soil erosion.

| March/April 2007

Learn how to use mulch to lower your garden maintenance work.

There is no such thing as a maintenance-free lawn or garden. However, a lower maintenance lawn and garden can be easily achieved. The secret? Use mulch to lower your garden maintenance.

Choosing the right type and amount of mulch can reduce watering and weeding chores and be an attractive upgrade to any landscaping project. Properly installed mulch will protect the soil from erosion or crusting over by increasing air and water circulation.

Mulch allows for better soil penetration, which creates a looser, healthier soil and reduces routine maintenance. Using mulch also improves soil in less visible ways by building healthy soil structure and increasing biological activity, which reduces tilling and cultivation.

The most popular mulches are bark chips or chunks (shredded bark is easy to get from the local sawmill, and composted sawdust also works well and can be obtained at the same place), straw and hay (although they can be full of pesky grain, grass or weed seeds), leaf mold or pine needles. Even compost makes a nice organic mulch.

Selecting Garden Mulch

Plan for two to three inches of mulch to control weeds and retain moisture. Home gardeners can purchase bagged or bulk mulch with confidence by checking the labeling. The Mulch & Soil Council, a non-profit group for mulches, potting soils and commercial growing media, governs mulch product quality guidelines and industry labeling practices.

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