If you want a beautiful flower garden, you need to add mulch. Mulched gardens are healthier. Whether organic or inorganic, mulch helps keep roots and soil cool, prevent weed growth, protect from weather damage and keep moisture in, particularly during hot summer months. And, depending on the type of mulch, an added benefit is that it looks good too, giving your garden an aesthetic flare.
Types of Mulches
There are organic mulches. Those are made of wood products, such as bark and branches, pine needles, other plant material, newspaper with soy-based ink, or beans. They are biodegradable, which translates here into requiring replacement as they decompose. Two downsides, depending where you live, is they can attract critters and snails, and they can retain too much moisture in some areas.
Inorganic mulches are made from shredded rubber, gravel and stones, black plastic, and even glass marbles. Their chief benefit is that they do not decompose and last longer. Additionally, they do not attract rodents or retain too much moisture like some organic kinds.
Mulch can be bought at nurseries and home improvement stores. The store-bought kind is high quality, but many people make their one with a garden shredder or chipper. (This is an environmentally friendly way to clean up your yard.)
Tips and Timing
Apply mulch right after you plant using a shovel or trowel. Spread the mulch around the root area, but not up against the main stem (you don’t want to smother it). If you planted annual or perennial flowers, an inch or two is fine. If you planted roses or shrubs, aim for four inches of mulch.
Renew organic mulches every year or two, since they break down, by adding a new layer. You can mix the old mulch in with the soil to enrich it, then add a new layer on top. However, if you are in an area that gets a lot of moisture, that may result in a too thick amount of mulch. If you are in a sandy or clay soil area, mulch is particularly important to add nutrients to the soil as it breaks down.
Regardless of the soil type, try to keep at least one to four inches of mulch on your flowerbed, based on the material you are using and types of plants. If you are using smaller mulch particles, you probably need to add more during the growing season or at least annually. If you use larger particles, like wood chips, it may only need refreshing every two or three years.
Don’t forget your flower containers too. They are subject to the same weather conditions as flower in the ground. Terra cotta planters, much like clay soil, dry plants out fasters than non-clay environments.