Choosing the Right Mulch for Your Landscape

An attractive finishing touch and an important part of landscape management, mulch is an essential product for gardeners and landscapers. From aesthetically pleasing black mulch to practical pea straw, there are many different mulches available with different appearances, qualities and prices. Bittern Garden Supplies stocks a wide range of mulch for Mornington Peninsula residential and commercial gardens. Read on to learn more about mulching, including the many benefits and which type might be best suited to your landscape design.

What the Benefits of Using Mulch?

There are many advantages of using mulch in a garden. In addition to making the space more attractive,

  • mulch helps the soil retain moisture, reducing the amount of watering required.
  • it also lessens the chance of the soil surface drying out in the hot sun.
  • in winter, it can help keep soil warmer so that plants can flourish.
  • mulch can suppress weed growth.
  • many types of mulch add nutrients to the soil when broken down, improving soil structure and fertility.
  • mulching can also reduce run-off and soil movement from garden beds.

Which Mulch Should I Choose?

There are two types of mulch that are readily available, organic and inorganic.

Organic Mulch – this type of mulch adds nutrients to the soil, however the rate and extent of this varies according to the mulch composition and particle size. A few common organic mulches include:

  • Straw (pea straw, stable straw) – high in nitrogen, these are best used on areas where the high nutrient content can be utilised such as in vegetable gardens.
  • Wood chips and shredded bark – one of the most common and cost-effective types of mulch, these are best used on general garden beds as they are visually attractive and break down relatively slowly.
  • Grass clippings – these break down fast and add many nutrients to the soil. They should be applied in thin layers as they can start to rot when wet.
  • Shredded leaves – fallen leaves are an easy and readily accessible mulch, however they should be shredded, as they can form a mat when wet and prevent water from passing through. Excellent for use in winter to provide insulation.
  • Hay – contains more nutrients than straw, so will enrich the soil. However, hay is likely to contain more seeds and may also contain pesticides.
  • Compost – ideal for use as a soil conditioner, this type of mulch material breaks down fast and quickly adds nutrients to your soil.

Inorganic Mulch – this type of mulch adds aesthetic value and works well to suppress weeds. However, it will not add any nutrients to improve the soil quality or help with moisture retention. The main type of inorganic mulch is:

Rocks and gravel – attractive and helps to keep soil warm, these are most suitable for drought-resistant Australian native gardens or cacti. More expensive than organic mulches to purchase, however, these inorganic materials don’t break down and will not need to be regularly replaced like organic mulches. Gravel, rocks and stones are ideal for use in areas where plants won’t be growing, such as under a deck or in a rock garden as they will help prevent weeds from growing.

How Thick Should a Layer of Mulch Be?

The answer depends on the type of mulch that you choose. Mulch types with big or chunky particles (where more than 65% of particles do not fit through a 5mm screen) are best for reducing the evaporation rate, and for allowing water to travel through. Mulch with fine particles (where 65% or more are able to fit through a 2mm screen) can actually soak up moisture and prevent water permeating through. As a general rule, the chunkier the mulch, the thicker it can be applied. Don’t apply a thick layer of fine mulch, as it will retain water that plant roots won’t benefit from. Thick layers of fine mulch also stay very wet for longer which can introduce disease and reduce air flow.

For high quality and affordable Mornington garden supplies, visit BGS today. With a wide variety of mulch, crushed rock, sand and soil, we have all the garden supplies you need for Mornington landscaping projects of any size. To speak with our friendly team, call 5983 9779 or visit us in Bittern today. Alternatively, you can enquire about our products and services online now.