Mulching is a horticulture practice that has been around for quite a long time. In short, mulching involves spreading a layer of material on the ground around your prized plants to help protect them from the elements. There are a variety of materials used for mulching, and they all have their own unique benefits and draw backs.

There are a couple of different classifications for mulches; inorganic and organic.

Inorganic mulches include items such as plastic coverings, non-plant materials, rocks and gravel. Many people who grow vegetables and fruits, often used plastic as a way to protect their plants as they reach maturity.

Organic mulches are typically plant based materials, such as wood chips, compost, straw, newspaper, sawdust and other similar materials.

What are the Primary Purposes of Mulching?

Mulching helps aid plant growth by protecting them from conditions that may cause fungal or bacterial infections, such as excess rain or watering, as well as serving to keep a plant’s roots and vegetation warm during colder months. It is also beneficial in helping prevent erosion, and protecting not only your plants and flower beds, but also your lawn. Mulching also can protect your plants when weather is dry and there are periods of drought, by helping keep that water in to prevent the roots from drying up during harsh weather.

When mulching is done in the fall, it helps set the stage for future growth and protection for your plants. Although Western North Carolina typically stays pretty mild in the winter, we are not immune from cold snaps or snow, and often get them at least a few times. If you’ve mulched your garden and lawn, you are better prepared for those times, maximizing both future bloom growth and better fruiting success come spring when the world wakes up again.

When done in the spring, it allows the soil to warm up more effectively, especially if you use a dark colored plastic or cloth in your growing area; allowing for many home gardeners and landscapers to start some of those warmer weather plants earlier, giving them a good start.

Conversely, during the summer months, using a lighter colored mulch is helpful to prevent plants and their roots from getting too hot, which can cause plant death and/or stunted growth.

Organic Mulch vs. Inorganic Mulch

In most cases, if you want to give back to the environment and amend and enrich the soil on your property, it’s a good idea to stick with organic mulches. When you use straw, leaves, compost or any other organic mulch, you create a healthier, more nutrient-rich soil that will ensure your plants can thrive. Organic mulching is preferred over inorganic mulching for vegetable and fruit gardens, as they are easier to till and provide a lot of additional nutrition that other mulch or fertilizers simply can’t. It’s also pretty affordable for most people, and you can even get organic matter for free in some cases, or start a compost pile from food scraps for free or very low startup cost.

If using organic mulch, ensure you have a minimum of a 4” layer, which generally provides the best protection against weeds and extreme temperatures, and 8” if using straw.

Inorganic mulch on the other hand has its own benefits too. Inorganic mulch, especially landscape fabric or plastic, can be incredibly helpful for preventing weeds and other pests from demolishing your garden or flower beds. Remember though, that is you choose plastic or landscape fabric, unless it specifically says that it is biodegradable, you will have to replace it the next growing season which can be a lot of work, and cost quite a bit. Since it does not biodegrade and can leach harmful chemicals into the soil, it should be inspected and replaced regularly, and should not be left for extended periods of time.

Want to get a discount on mulching services from TPS Landscaping?

Throughout the months of September and October, we are excited to announce that we have a special deal for mulching services!

Receive 10% off materials cost of mulch or pine straw (up to 30 cubic yards) when you book your mulch installation by October 31st, 2022! To learn more about this special offer, or to book a FREE no obligation consult, click here! This deal runs from September 1st, 2022, thru October 31st, 2022.