If you’ve ever traipsed through a forest you’ve no doubt noticed how leaves or pine nettles covering the floor provide a soft cushion to walk on in addition to beautiful ground cover. Though you may not have realized it, you were walking on nature’s own mulch – a product of millions of years of experimentation and evolution conducted by nature to arrive at the perfect method for replenishing the soil with organic material, retaining moisture and defending from incursion by weeds.
Mulch – essentially anything we put on the ground to cover the soil – is as crucial to a healthy garden as it is a forest. Our personal preference is a forest floor-type mulch comprised of finely shredded bark and twigs about three inches deep and mixed with a rich, organic compost. This is fantastic for soil biology, as it provides lots of nitrogen and encourages beneficial microbes and bacteria to flourish. It also saves money by holding water in the soil instead of allowing it to evaporate. Further, the depth of the covering provides insulation to root systems, shielding them from extremes in temperature, which in turn helps plants survive cold winters and hot summers. As for weeds – the bane of every garden – mulch seriously curtails their ability to root and makes them much easier to remove when they do appear. Mulch even provides a beautiful finishing touch to any garden and is a great cover for drip irrigation lines.
Can’t you tell we love mulch?