Mulch is one of the best things you can add to your garden. Properly applied, clean mulch will reduce the amount of weeds you have and will help save water. This saves you time and money and is also good for the environment since it reduces both your water and chemical use.
Simply put, mulch is material that is placed over soil. In addition to conserving water and helping prevent weeds, mulched beds tend to look tidier and attractive then leaving the ground exposed. Organic mulch can act as a fertilizer and make your soil healthier, although it should not be confused with compost made from your kitchen scraps.
Loveland and many other communities collect trees, including your Christmas tree, to cut into mulch. This keeps the trees out of the landfill and provides the community with mulch, saving the taxpayers money.
Organic mulch is basically anything that used to be alive, such as leaves, straw, even paper and your grass clippings. These may work for small vegetable and flower garden beds, and serve the main purposes of keeping down pests and weeds and saving water, but they are not generally used for large scale projects under shrubbery.
Wood chips and bark are also organic mulch products which are more decorative and are typically used in landscape design. One of the challenges we face in Loveland with wood mulch is with our winds it can blow away. For areas that are exposed to wind or are on a slope, we often recommend “Gorilla mulch” which is shredded bark and looks more stringy or hairy looking than chips. It is those “hairs” that help hold it together and in place.
No matter which type of organic mulch you choose, keep in mind that being organic it will naturally decay over time and will need to be refreshed or replaced. The colors will fade with age as well, so most landscapers will suggest an annual surface refreshment to keep your landscape looking its best.
Other options for mulching your landscape include products that are not organic. For most landscape designs this will be either gravel or larger rocks or even a rubber product that is designed to look like traditional wood mulch. Rubber mulch is typically made from recycled tires and is a clean and environmentally friendly solution, but is more expensive to purchase, although it tends to last longer and could save you money in the long run.