Mulch is a layer of organic or inorganic matter that’s placed on garden or lawn soil. The cover limits evaporation and helps the soil retain moisture for a longer period of time. It also protects the soil from extreme heat and cold, which can help protect the delicate roots of plants, grass, and trees. Mulch will also limit weed growth so your plants, grass, and trees don’t have to compete with an undesirable plant and can thrive.
There are different types of mulches available in the market and each has their advantages and disadvantages. Organic mulches with compost and dead plant matter are popular with home gardeners but they can be difficult to maintain. Inorganic mulches like plastic sheets are convenient but not as popular. Bark matter is great for people who want something that looks good and is hassle-free. These are some of the most popular types of mulches available in the market today.
What is Bark Mulch?
Bark mulch is made from tree barks. It’s often the waste material from sawmills and furniture manufacturers that cut and shape wood products. Instead of discarding the wood matter, many companies sell it to gardening stores and homeowners at a low cost. Some bark mulch is also made from specifically for gardening and are more expensive. These are made from carefully selected wood types and offer a number of benefits. Bark mulch is absorbent so it’s ideal for mulching. It comes in the form of small nuggets, and shredded flakes.
You can simply spread it evenly across the ground and around plants. Just make sure that you don’t add too much mulch.An inch or two of it will be sufficient for any plant or grass. Just choose the mulch carefully, especially if your plants prefer neutral or alkaline soil because some bark mulch can add acidity. You can ask a professional or a gardening store owner about the levels of acidity in different types of mulch.
How Long Does Bark Mulch Last?
Bark mulch is made from organic plant matter so it is biodegradable. Eventually, this mulch will break down and you will have to replace it with a fresh layer. You shouldn’t add a new layer of bark mulch until the older layer has completely disintegrated and mixed with the soil. If you still have some patches of mulch left, you need to remove the older layer before you add a new one.
Bark mulch lasts for a long time, especially if it’s undisturbed. You can expect it to last for seven to ten years if you maintain it properly. The bark mulch should have constant contact with the soil underneath and receive water regularly. This will keep the bark shredding relatively healthy and slow down the degradation. The durability makes it an excellent choice for gardeners so most don’t hesitate to pay a slightly higher up-front price for this mulch.
Types Of Bark Mulch
Bark mulch can come from different kinds of trees and offers different advantages. You should consider all of them carefully choose something for your garden. The gardening store employees or your landscaper will know which bark mulches are a good choice for your plants and trees. Here are some of the common bark mulches available in the market:
- Cedar Bark Mulch – Cedar bark mulch is a great option if you have fruit or vegetable gardens and want to keep pests at bay. Cedar naturally releases insect repelling oil that can help protect your plants from the most problematic insects and pests. Cedar bark also has a beautiful golden color that will make your garden look pretty and put together. Unfortunately, this mulch can compact more easily so you will have to rake it a little to reintroduce air into the mulch and loosen it.
- Pine Bark Mulch – This is one of the most popular mulches available in the market today. It’s great as a base for potted plants and for small trees and shrubs. Pine bark mulches don’t matt down as easily as cedar so you won’t have to rake them as often. They also retain moisture well and will protect the soil from external temperature changes. Aged pine bark mulch is very rich in nutrients and can help your flowering plants thrive. You can also purchase pine and spruce mix bark mulch.
- Hemlock Bark Mulch – Hemlock is one of the most beautiful mulches available in the market, which is why it’s popular with homeowners. The bark is rich and vivid in color and doesn’t fade under the sun. The tannins in the hemlock tree make this mulch eye-catching and bright. But that’s not the only benefit of the hemlock bark mulch. It adds nutrients like vitamin C to the soil and has several curative properties. Hemlock bark mulch is great for gardens with fruits and vegetables as well. Both hemlock and cedar are effective in keeping the weed out so if you have a weed or pest problem, you can choose either of these mulches.
Considerations When Buying Bark Mulch
- Pine mulch will degrade more quickly than other mulches so if you want something for the long term, skip this mulch.
- Longer lasting mulches have a higher initial cost. However, you won’t have to go through the process of replacing the mulch too often.
- Thicker and more resilient bark mulches are more difficult to break down. They will draw more nitrogen from the soil and that can damage your plants.
- Bark mulches add acidity to the soil and can disrupt the pH balance. Make sure you choose the right mulch for your plants before you add it to your soil.
Without mulch, your soil will lose moisture quickly, the roots will have to bear extreme temperature changes, and you’ll have to aerate the ground more often. If you want to keep your garden healthy, you should invest in mulch. It will protect your soil, keep weed and pests at bay, and ensure your plants thrive.