An Overview of Home-Made Mulches An Overview of Home-Made Mulches
by Ti Craig Elliott

Mulch and compost are the two most important things that you can use for your garden. Every spring begins a new battle to keep your gardens growing green and healthy. Gardener's worst enemies typically are blight, drought, parasites and diseases and of course the dreaded weeds. There are two basic type of mulch, inorganic and organic. Inorganic mulches are things such as, gravel, pebbles, landscaping fabric and any items that do not decompose. Organic mulch decomposes and is made of all natural substances and is very easy to make right at home.

One of the best defenses for weed control is homemade organic mulch. Mulch reduces water loss through evaporation. Mulch adds nutrients to your soil and helps keep those pesky weeds at bay. An excellent source of mulch that is completely free is tree trimmings. Normally arborists have to pay to dispose of their tree trimmings so they will gladly give you a truckload. Depending on the truck size you might just end up with 10 cubic yards of wood chip for absolutely nothing. What a great savings especially since plants and flowers can get rather expensive. With wood chips you do have to be careful since they will draw termites and other insects. Small chips decompose very rapidly using nitrogen from the soil.

Pine bark is another great mulch and aids in weed control. Pine bark is very attractive mulch. It is dark in color and can be purchased in large particles down to shreds. If you are cutting down any pine trees then take the time to rent a shredder and shred the scraps of the tree for your springtime mulching. One of the weaknesses of pine bark is that it is very light weight and does not hold up well in heavy rains. Another benefit is the odor of pine bark, it is very fragrant. Another part of the pine tree is very useful in mulching and that is pine needles. Pine needles are excellent mulch for staying in place because the needles have a tendency to interlock making them stay better especially on little hills. Trees and shrubs that intake a lot of acid love pine needles as a covering because this type of mulch allows air, water and nutrients to penetrate easily to the soil.

Another type of homemade mulch is shredded leaves. Shred the leaves coarsely using a shredder or your lawn mower. Leaves are easy to obtain and they make attractive mulch. Leaves also improve your soil as they decompose. After the leaves decompose you need to dig them into the soil and add a fresh layer of shredded leaves back on top.

The best use for grass clippings is to leave them on the lawn. Grass clippings will decompose rapidly, adding nutrients back into the soil. A two-inch layer of grass clippings provides weed control if they are not full of weed seeds. It is best to build up the layer gradually using dry grass, not fresh clippings, to prevent the formation of a solid mat. Be careful not to use clippings from lawns that have been treated with herbicides.

If you are luck enough to live by a pecan processing plant you can use pecan shells as mulch. Pecan shells make long-lasting, attractive, dark brown mulch that is effective in retaining moisture in the soil. Pecan shells also decompose slowly so there is less maintenance with this type of mulch.

Once you have decided which type of home made mulch you are going to use you need to get your area prepared to apply the mulch. Weed your area thoroughly before laying the mulch down. Keep your mulch 2-3 inches away from plant and 6 -12 inches away from walls of buildings. Depending on whether you are using fine or coarse mulch will determine how deep you layer the mulch. Fine textured mulch will suffocate the roots of your plants resulting in poor growth. Coarse textured mulch allows good ventilation so it can be as deep as 4 inches.

You can save a lot of money by using home made mulch. By using home made mulch you are able to refresh your gardens and keep them looking sharp all season long. Enjoy every aspect of your gardening it is a direct reflection of you and your home. Using home made mulches it will add to the beauty of you're landscaping by providing a cover of uniform color and interesting texture to the surface. Best of luck with your gardening this spring.

About Author:
Craig Elliott is a freelance writer who writes about topics pertaining to home maintenance such as Lawn Care


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