Mulch can make or break a garden, and depending on needs like drainage, longevity, nutrients and weed growth as well as more aesthetic considerations, certain varieties of mulch may be better than others. Mulch is simply any organic material placed on top of soil used for gardening or landscaping.
The most common type of mulch is known as bark mulch, though there are many different varieties of bark mulch.
Bark is typically used where breakdown into the soil is not desired and there won’t be digging during the growing season. It is often placed around trees, perennial bushes or shrubs, foundation plantings or front walkways. While larger bark pieces don’t decompose or break down as quickly, smaller bark mulch may break down in time for planting to be done next season. It is also generally the most aesthetically pleasing mulch and may be purchased in a variety of colors and types.
Some common types of bark mulch include hardwood, oak, cedar, and pine.
Hardwood bark mulch is the most common variety of mulch and is best used as a general all-purpose option. Hardwood mulch comes in many different colors and sizes. It decomposes quickly and offers good drainage for putting over the top of existing plantings, and it helps to prevent weed growth.
Oak mulch tends to decompose slower than other types of bark, making it ideal for placing around trees. The thinner the mulch, the better it is at retaining moisture. You want the soil to remain moist around the heavy-drinking perennial trees and shrubs. It tends to be harder to work into the soil though, so it’s best not to use it where you will be digging regularly over the growing season.
Cedar has the benefit of being very aromatic, helping to create a garden or landscaping “experience” for visitors. It takes the longest to decompose, making it perfect as a decorative mulch. The color of cedar mulch is also quite aesthetically pleasing, and it is insect-resistant to keep bugs away from your flowers or vegetables.
Shredded pine tends to blend the benefits of oak and hardwood mulch, in that it is a good moisture retention option while also decomposing more quickly. Because of the decomposition process, pine needs to be replaced more quickly, but it also helps to build up the soil quality over time.
With the right preparation, gardening can be a fun pastime that doesn’t require too much upkeep or weeding. Whichever type you feel is best for your garden, buying mulch is generally a vital part of keeping and maintaining a garden.
Ask the Milwaukee Mulch Man at Melvin Mulch about your mulch needs. He’ll advise you on the many specific types available for your landscaping and gardening needs. We do mulch delivery as well.