For landscapers and lawn enthusiasts, there are numerous options available when it comes to mulch. But what’s the difference between natural mulch and inorganic mulch? Typically, natural mulch refers to a mixture of organic materials like wood chips, tree bark, pine straw, grass, and leaves. Inorganic mulch, on the other hand, generally refers to mulches that are comprised of inorganic matter – newspaper, rubber, plastics, geotextiles, stones, and rocks.
There are also several types of dyed mulch (red, green, and black mulch) that landscapers may use to achieve a certain desired aesthetic. However, black-dyed mulch problems can range from not decomposing expeditiously enough, and in some dyed mulches, the chemicals used in the dye may seep into the soil and contaminate it – potentially harming vital bacteria or even nearby flora.
Essentially, “natural” mulch is comprised of organic materials like those listed above and is generally used to help the soil retain moisture, suppress the growth of weeds and other unwanted flora, and also regulate the temperature of the soil. By providing a kind of protective shield between the earth and plant life, natural mulch can also mitigate the effects of erosion and contribute nutrients to the soil beneath as the mulch itself slowly decomposes over time.
Mulch can be an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective solution for gardeners and landscapers alike, and there are many unique types of mulch from which to choose. In addition to natural mulch, there are mulches made from recycled materials or stones that can be longer-lasting and more durable options for certain situations.
Regardless of the type of mulch you decide on, it’s important to apply mulch correctly and maintain it throughout the year to ensure it works as intended. With proper installation, maintenance, and care, mulch can be an ideal tool to promote healthy plant growth or provide a beautiful visual appeal to your home’s landscape.
At American Mulch Producers, we provide the highest quality organic and natural mulch. Our customers receive locally sourced, bulk mulch. We even provide wholesale mulch pricing for large quantities. If you are interested in getting an estimate, contact us today, and a team member will be in touch.
What is Mulching?
For starters, let’s tackle the most pressing question – what is mulching? Mulch typically refers to material spread out over topsoil (generally for landscaping and beautification purposes) that is used to cover the earth and slow the erosion process. One of the most common ways to make mulch is by grinding up trees into little chips, but there are also other sources of organic and inorganic materials that may be utilized in various mulch products.
If you are wondering, “Is mulch toxic to humans?” you are not alone. While organic mulch may give off a distinctive, putrid odor, most mulches are generally harmless to humans. However, one of the disadvantages of mulching is that some types of mulch, depending on the maker or packager, may contain elements or compounds that can be harmful to humans (or even vegetables if you are utilizing mulch in a garden).
Suppose you have concerns about whether or not your mulch is safe to use in a garden, for instance. In that case, you should consult the manufacturer or a qualified landscaping expert to ensure that the mulch you use is safe for your specific applications.
Types of Mulching
There are many types of mulching – organic, inorganic, living, and sheet mulching – that can be utilized to safeguard and inundate the soil with various nutrients. Organic mulch examples may include organic bark mulch, natural mulch (no dye additives), and mulch made from other organic materials like grasses, straws, or leaves.
Inorganic mulches are generally comprised of synthetic or non-living materials like plastics, textiles, gravel, or stones. Living mulching is more commonly used in agricultural applications but refers to the process of planting a low-growing crop beneath the primary crops in order to suppress weed growth and help retain moisture in the soil. And sheet mulching simply refers to layering different types of mulches; one might first put down a layer of fabric before adding a layer of gravel or stones and topping it all off with a layer of organic bark mulch, for example.
These techniques can be used together or separately, and can also be modified further to meet your specific gardening or landscaping needs. The advantages of organic mulching are numerous and can provide a wide array of benefits for several different applications. Mulch can help give landscaping a unified look, provide valuable nutrients to the soil underneath, and help maintain soil temperature as well.
Natural Mulch for Vegetable Garden
Whether you want to use the best bagged mulch for vegetable garden applications or homemade mulch for vegetable garden landscaping, there are a number of contributing factors to consider. One of the most important considerations is the mulch material’s ability to retain moisture, as many vegetables require sufficient moisture in order to grow healthily and thrive. Because of this, organic mulches comprised of straw or shredded leaves are highly effective at retaining moisture and they also decompose naturally over time and add their nutrients to the garden soil.
Another important aspect to consider is the mulch’s ability to thwart the growth of weeds. In a garden environment, weeds can sap valuable moisture and nutrients away from vegetables. Again, organic mulches made from grass clippings or wood chips are effective weed suppressers and can provide a natural, alluring appearance.
Gardeners will also want to consider the relative cost and availability of certain mulches; organic mulch can be much more costly than inorganic options, but this is because organic mulches typically provide gardens with more benefits like improved soil health and moisture retention. At the end of the day, however, no two gardens are alike, and so one mulch solution that works well in your backyard may not work for someone else and vice versa. Finding an ideal solution can take time, but many effective options are available.
Natural Mulch for Flower Beds
Determining the best mulch for flower beds can depend on the variety of flowers and the overall desired look you might be looking for. Generally speaking, it’s best to utilize natural mulch for flower beds because organic mulch can provide greater benefits than inorganic mulch. The best organic mulch for flower beds will ideally minimize weed growth while retaining moisture and inundating the soil with valuable nutrients.
Some flowers are able to thrive in more acidic soil, for instance, so utilizing a mulch comprised of pine needles can help provide all of the other benefits of using an organic mulch in addition to maintaining the pH level of the soil so that the flowers can grow happily. Conversely, some flowers may prefer dryer, less acidic soil. In these cases, it can be beneficial to use an inorganic mulch like small gravel or pebbles.
Gardeners must also consider how thick they want the layer(s) of mulch to be. While a nice, thick layer can help prevent weed growth and retain moisture within the soil, it can also smother more delicate species of flower and prevent water and air from reaching the roots beneath the surface. For most flower beds, a thin layer of mulch will suffice as this allows for adequate ventilation and hydration.
Natural Hardwood Mulch
Hardwood mulch is a term that refers to types of mulch made from chipped or shredded hardwood trees – species like birch, oak, and maple, for example. Hardwood mulch is usually available in a variety of forms including natural, dyed, shredded, and others, and it is widely utilized in general landscaping and gardening applications as well.
In landscape and gardening, hardwood mulch can be used to prevent excessive weed growth, temperature regulation, and it can help the soil retain more moisture. In addition, because hardwood mulch is so effective as a weed suppressant, gardeners and landscapers can better tend to the landscape without relying on harmful chemicals or synthetic herbicides.
If you’re concerned about dealing with dyed mulch and rain, consider natural hardwood mulch. As one of the best organic mulch compounds, dried hardwood mulch can provide all of the benefits associated with organic mulches with some of the visual aesthetic appeal afforded by inorganic mulches.
For those considering using hardwood mulch, it’s essential to recognize that it can sometimes attract unwanted pests such as termites or burrowing mammals. Because of this, it’s important to regularly inspect mulched areas to check for signs of pest activity.
Organic Mulch for Trees
It may also be beneficial to utilize organic mulch for trees. Because mulch can be used to help retain soil moisture and suppress weed growth, landscapers may also choose to wreath tree bases with organic mulch. In addition to helping facilitate growth, spreading mulch around the base of trees can enhance the visual appearance of the landscape by creating a well-kept look.
Where to buy organic mulch may vary slightly depending on your location and the time of year. But the advantages of using organic mulch around trees remain consistent. Organic mulches can provide a reliable source of nutrients for trees as the mulch decomposes.
Overall, mulching is a simple solution to promote the health and growth of trees, gardens, and other landscaping flora. Whether you purchase organic mulch from a local nursery or you make your own at home – utilizing organic mulch in your gardening or landscape applications can be a worthwhile investment in the health and beautification of your property.