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There are different types of mulch for your gardens and flower beds, each with their advantages and disadvantages.
Types of Mulch
You can use organic mulch or inorganic mulch in your flower beds. Inorganic mulch can be decorative rocks, lava rock, gravel and landscaping plastics. If you decide to use rock, you can put landscaping fabric underneath first, to keep weeds from growing through the rocks. The main disadvantage with rocks is that they can end up all over the yard and sidewalks.
Organic mulch includes pine needles, leaves, grass clippings, bark chips, hay and paper, though paper can dry out and blow all over the yard, so it is best to use as layer underneath.
An advantage with organic mulch is it adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down and it creates a nice environment for worms and worms are great for the soil, making compost and aerating the soil.
A disadvantage with using grass clippings is that clippings can have weed seeds. Also, when using grass clippings, make sure the clippings did not have any weed killer used on them. Let the clippings dry before adding them as mulch.
How to Mulch Flower Beds
Let the soil warm naturally in the spring before putting mulch in the flower beds, otherwise the soil can remain too cool during the early spring for the flowers to grow and bloom normally.
The first step when putting mulch in the flower bed is to weed first. Try to get the entire root of the weed. If you are going to use inorganic mulch after weeding, lay the landscaping fabric down and cover with rocks, gravel or bark.
If you plan to use organic mulch, spread the mulch evenly around the flowers at a depth of about 2 - 4 inches. If the mulch is too dense or thick, like all grass clippings, it can deprive the soil of oxygen. Circulating oxygen is important for healthy soil and the roots of the flowers.
You don’t have to use only one kind of mulch. Mixing in grass clippings with dry leaves and pine needles works fine and adds different nutrients at the same time.
You should keep the mulch about 3 inches from the base of the flowers. Mulch can also make a great home to slugs and cutworms that can damage the flowers. Put compost around the roots of the flowers and the mulch around the rest of the flower beds.
Different types of organic mulch have different pH levels and can change the pH level of your soil, and some flowers like a more acidic soil while other flowers need more alkaline. You can occasionally test your soil and add what you need during the season.
Putting mulch around perennials can prevent the thawing and freezing cycles that occur during the winter and prevent the flowers from being pushed out of the ground, known as heaving.
Put the mulch in the flower beds after frost has penetrated the ground or the ground is frozen, which is usually the time of year when overnight temperatures are consistently lower than 20 F (-7 C). According to Dr. D. E. Pfeiffer, mulch should be a little thicker as the flower roots are deep.
Copyright © 2014 Sam Montana
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