You need to consider many things when you are finding the perfect garden mulch for your landscape. We can judge distinct types of mulch by studying their reference points from one another.
Before beginning, let’s look at a preliminary question that many landscaping enthusiasts have: How can the mulch in the garden alters the soil pH? Looking further, can the garden mulch lower soil pH, as many have thought?
The pH composition of your soil has a determining effect on the well-being of your plants. Since garden mulch could influence that composition as it decomposes, it’s understandable that people (myself included) have often expressed concern over how garden mulch selection impacts soil pH. Does the use of garden mulch composed of pine needles lead to an acidic soil? How about gardening mulch with leaves from oak trees?
The most widely held view at present seems to be that garden mulch has little impact on soil pH. For example, while oak leaves in your mulch may be acidic when it is fresh, it now turns to become alkaline when it breaks down. Moreover, based on what I’ve read, it is now believed pine that needles making up a garden mulch reduces the soil pH to inconsequential levels, if ever.
With the question of the potential impact of garden mulch on soil pH out of the way, let’s reflect on some other issues surrounding garden mulch selection — some of which are quantifiable, others of which boil down to personal landscaping preferences. We will have to prioritize in order to make a decision, since a garden mulch that scores high in one category might perform miserably in another. Two distinct purposes of garden mulch on which a beginner will find little information in this article are weed suspension and erosion control. They have not been included for a simple fact: a garden mulch done perfectly will eliminate weeds and erosion altogether.
These are the three constants in this discussion.
* “Insulation value in summer” is judged by the degree to which the garden mulch can keep the soil beneath cool and moist. A notable summer insulator will both lessen your need for watering and it guards the roots against severe heat.
* The argument of whether to get rid of the garden mulch or not when springtime comes is based on the fact that substantial garden mulches can stifle sprouting spring shrubs. Apparently, this is not a factor for lively plants above the ground. But even the latter can profit from having the soil around their roots warmed by the spring sun, a process facilitated by the temporary removal of the garden mulch. Regarding the use of plastic sheet mulch, this is not important since the material have openings to give access to plants.
* “Nourishment and aeration afforded to underlying soil by decomposition” is a benchmark used to approximate the different garden mulches. Though don’t be mistake the term “nourishment” into thinking that garden mulch and compost are the same.
Written by: Custom Stone and Waterscapes 3829 Parkhill Place SW, Calgary, AB T2S 2W6 (403) 870-1142 (403) 870-1142
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