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

  • Spring crocus peek through a layer of mulch.
    Spring crocus peek through a layer of mulch.
    Photo: iStockPhoto.com/Richard McGuirk
  • Learn how to mulch to lower your garden maintenance and cut back on the weeding and watering of your plants.
    Learn how to mulch to lower your garden maintenance and cut back on the weeding and watering of your plants.
    Photo: iStockPhoto.com/Tamara Murray
  • Wood chip mulch is used to cover areas surrounding garden plants.
    Wood chip mulch is used to cover areas surrounding garden plants.
    Photo: iStockPhoto.com/Jethro Loader
  • Making premium mulch from landscaping and construction scraps is big business in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, keeping hundreds of thousands of tons of waste out of the landfill each year.
    Making premium mulch from landscaping and construction scraps is big business in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, keeping hundreds of thousands of tons of waste out of the landfill each year.
    Photo: Oscar H. Will III
  • Bark mulch is used to cover areas surrounding garden plants.
    Bark mulch is used to cover areas surrounding garden plants.
    Photo: iStockPhoto.com/pixonaut
  • Wood and bark chips are used to cover areas surrounding garden plants.
    Wood and bark chips are used to cover areas surrounding garden plants.
    Photo: iStockPhoto.com/David Hughes
  • Shredded pine mulch is used to cover areas surrounding garden plants.
    Shredded pine mulch is used to cover areas surrounding garden plants.
    Photo: iStockPhoto.com/Nicola Stratford
  • Shredded straw mulch is used to cover areas surrounding garden plants.
    Shredded straw mulch is used to cover areas surrounding garden plants.
    Photo: iStockPhoto.com/Jethro Loader

  • Spring crocus peek through a layer of mulch.
  • Learn how to mulch to lower your garden maintenance and cut back on the weeding and watering of your plants.
  • Wood chip mulch is used to cover areas surrounding garden plants.
  • Making premium mulch from landscaping and construction scraps is big business in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, keeping hundreds of thousands of tons of waste out of the landfill each year.
  • Bark mulch is used to cover areas surrounding garden plants.
  • Wood and bark chips are used to cover areas surrounding garden plants.
  • Shredded pine mulch is used to cover areas surrounding garden plants.
  • Shredded straw mulch is used to cover areas surrounding garden plants.

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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