Mulch For The Garden – Learn About The Benefits Of Using Mulch

By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

Gardens take on many shapes, sizes and characteristics. Flower gardens add aesthetic appeal to any property and range from simple to elaborate. Vegetable gardens, which can be very attractive in their own right, are regaining popularity with increasing food prices. All gardens, whether they are flower or vegetable, benefit from the use of mulch.

Types of Mulch for the Garden

There is a wide variety of mulch types available, which can be broken down into two large groups: organic and inorganic.

  • Organic – Organic, or natural mulches, include such things as hardwood chips, pine straw, grass clippings and crushed leaves.
  • Inorganic -Inorganic, or synthetic mulches, include pebbles, crushed rock, plastic or rubber mats or chips.

Organic mulch tends to cost less than synthetic mulch but has to be replaced more frequently due to deterioration.

Benefits of Using Mulch


There are many advantages of adding mulch to a garden area, besides making the garden more attractive and finished looking. These include:

  • One of the best benefits of any mulch is its ability to retain moisture in the soil.
  • Organic mulches break down over time and contribute to soil health. This can be very helpful, especially if your soil fertility is poor.
  • Mulch reduces winter injury and helps with weed control.
  • Other garden mulch benefits include protection from erosion and protection from mechanical injury from weed eaters and lawnmowers.
  • Some mulch types, such as cypress, cedar or pinewood chips, do an excellent job of repelling ticks, gnats and fleas.

Choosing the Best Mulch

The best mulch for your garden depends on a number of things, including personal preference and budget. If you are interested in improving your soil fertility, choose organic mulch that suits your needs.

Gardeners wishing to keep their gardens completely organic should be careful when choosing natural mulch that contains dyes.

For gardeners with a large landscaped area that they do not want to fuss with, synthetic mulch maybe the best option.

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