How to Determine the Best Mulch for Your Plants

In case you missed the memo, spring is here and, for a large part of the nation, it’s gardening season. The frozen winter plants are showing signs of regrowth, and you will need to start preparing your backyard for the spring, summer and fall crops you want to grow.

gardentoolsChances are high that gardening aficionados will head to the local hardware store for the following gardening essentials:

  • Soil
  • Plant seeds
  • Gardening tools
  • Gardening gloves
  • Gardening hose
  • Nutrient boosts (for plants or soil)
  • Weed killer
  • Mulch

Talk to any gardening professional and you will hear various mulch recommendations. Some prefer the readily available wood mulch, but one of our blogs a couple of months ago discussed the dangers that wood mulch can pose to your garden. While we recommend rubber mulch, others stick to traditional compost. Benefits of compost include recycling and natural nutrients.

Robin Griggs Lawrence of Mother Earth News discusses other options, including pine bark or needles, eucalyptus, peanut or pecan shells, straw, cocoa hulls and corn husks[1]. Granted Lawrence suggests what is locally available to you, but all of the aforementioned options can pose a risk of garden mold or water unsuccessfully reaching your plants.

G.D. Palmer from SFGate suggests unnatural materials like paper, stones, black plastic and landscape fabric[2]. Most of these choices will not be aesthetically pleasing, and some gardeners feel uneasy layering these materials near their plants, seeing as these options are so unconventional.

Neither Lawrence nor Palmer consider the concept of rubber mulch. Why not? It is available in a variety of colors and sizes (pebbles or the shredded wood look). Rubber mulch does not absorb water, which offers two distinct benefits: water conservation and direct water to the plants themselves. Additionally, rubber mulch maintains its form and discourages termites and weeds.

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When asking landscaping professionals about what type of mulch is best suited to your plants, the best follow-up question for them to ask you is for which types of plants. They should ask you this question because each flower, brush and tree can react differently to the different mulch options due to varying degrees of acidic nature and nutrients that the mulch type offers the soil. It is also important to consider other gardening prep tasks, such as the following:

  1. Have you pruned the plants for regrowth?
  2. Did you churn the soil for water and nutrient penetration further than the plants’ roots?
  3. What mold and weed prevention are you practicing?

If you have already done the above procedures, then you are ready for your mulch layer.  Be sure to follow these recommendations:

  • Keep your mulch layer thin (no more than 4″)
  • Mulch is meant to possess an airy protective barrier, so keep it fluffed up and not compacted
  • If your climate is still warming up from a deep thaw, do not apply mulch right away. Let your soil naturally reach a warmer temperature before blanketing it in mulch
  • When mulching around bushes or trees, do not add mulch right up to the trunk bases. Leave a ring of a couple of inches bare

You are now officially ready to continue with your spring gardening. If you have any questions about how rubber mulch serves as an alternative mulch option, please contact our sales associates today to learn more.

Direct Rubber Mulch is an online distributor that specializes in playground and landscaping applications. We have helped schools, city playgrounds, commercial facades and residential homeowners to improve their play areas and the surrounding landscape via our first-rate rubber mulch options. Check out our Houzz and Tumblr to see how we assist others nationwide!

[1]Lawrence, Robin Griggs. “Mulch Madness: Environmentally Friendly Mulch Options.” 23 May, 2011. Mother Earth News. Retrieved April 4, 2014 from http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/mulch-madness-environmentally-friendly-mulch-options.aspx#axzz2xrpsMB9r.

[2]Palmer, G.D. “Landscape Mulch Options.” SFGate.  Demand Media. Retrieved April 4, 2014 from http://homeguides.sfgate.com/landscape-mulch-options-46899.html.

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