Monday, May 14, 2007

Why I Mulch and Why You Should Too

Before I became a 'real' gardener, I knew my mom used mulch and I'd seen huge piles of it at the nurseries. Even the gas stations sold it by the bag. I didn't use it though and didn't see the need for the extra expense. My bushes and trees were doing just fine, thank you, and even when I went all out and bought a couple flats of Petunias or Impatiens for planting, mulch never found its way into my car.

But now I grow things like Campanula and Baptisia and Arabis and I have seen the error of my ways. Now I can't live without my mulch and here's why:

  • When I apply a couple of inches of mulch to the non-planted areas of the flower beds, I have significantly fewer weeds, because it blocks the sunlight that most weed seeds need to germinate. While I actually enjoy weeding my gardens, maybe the reason I enjoy it is because I don't have that many weeds to pull.
  • Mulch is organic. I use finely ground natural tree bark. As the mulch breaks down over time, it adds nutrients to the soil.
  • It helps regulate the temperature of the soil. It keeps it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter and lessens the detrimental effects of freezing and thawing through the winter. It provides a natural insulating barrier from the sometimes brutal extremes the weather can bring.
  • It is especially helpful during the hot dry days of summer when evaporation of moisture from the soil occurs at a rapid rate. It slows this down considerably, since the mulch itself holds moisture better than the topsoil.
  • It just looks nice. Adding mulch as a top dressing is like framing a picture. I just love the look of a freshly mulched flower bed. It looks so neat and clean.

So, even though good mulch is not cheap, it's money well spent and after a winter like the one we had here this year, with temperature extremes being so ... well ... extreme, I'm glad I spent the time and money on mulch last year.

There's one more thing I like about mulch and it's kind of quirky. I love the smell of it, especially after it's rained. It reminds me of walking through through the woods. I love the smell of dirt, too. That conjures up a picture in my mind from way back, when I used to stay with my grandma and we'd take lunch to my grandpa out farming in the fields. The smell of a freshly plowed field makes me breathe deeply and smile. I told you it was quirky!

But anyway ... use mulch. You'll thank me later.


Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Sing it sister! Mulch to the garden is like moisturizer to the skin. I love a woman who knows how to mulch and to moisturize. :-)

BTW I like the smell of mulch too, very forrest-y. ;-)

Carol Michel said...

I also like the smell of mulch. I think most gardeners do, or they learn to, once they realize all the benefits of mulching.

Unknown said...

Yes, mulch rules...for the chocoholics among us...there is cocoa shell hull mulch. I bought two bags to use around the front door gardens, and in the soon-to-be-created chocolate garden. It DOES smell of chocolate--and the cats don't bother it and neither do the raccoons. It gives a different look too. I'll be getting a big rompin' heap of mulch like yours in a couple of weeks, Kylee...mulching is one of those soothing jobs that I really enjoy, when there's time.

Betty said...

Kylee, Thank you so much for coming by to visit with me and your kind comment....

You give excellent advice about mulching....All the aspects of gardening are food for the soul as the mulch is to the plants....

Libbys Blog said...

I popped over from Yolandas blog! What fabulous gardens both you and your mum have! I envy the space! Mine is 13ft wide and about 150 yards long, no elbow space!!!!! I shall pop back soon!

MrBrownThumb said...

Good post. I have to admit thought that I don't mulch, yet. I want to but it looks kinda ugly to me. Although I like the look of the chocolate mulch mentioned above and am considering it but I keep hearing that it's dangerous to pets.

I don't have pets but I have an alley cat that lives in my garden and don't want to harm him.

Do you know anything about the choco mulch mentioned?

Rose said...

I really enjoyed your post on mulching, something I really need to do more of. You have given me several good reasons to do so, despite the price:)
Also, thanks for inquiring about the climbing rose. I'm unsure of the name, but if I can locate the plant tag, I will let you know.
Happy gardening!

Nan said...

Beautiful photo. I love the curve of the walkway, the border stones, and the double layer around the circular garden with the tree. Is the fence in the distance bordering a road or your driveway? I just found your blog and will be spending more time here. Oh, and I use cocoa shell mulch, and love it. Great smell, and it makes the earth so friable (is that the right word?) and easy to weed. They say it is bad for dogs, but I don't know. When I was a girl, my father gave our dog a chocolate everyday. :<)

Kylee Baumle said...

Yolanda - I love the moisturizer analogy. Very good!

Jodi - I wasn't aware of the cocoa hull mulch. I'll have to check it out. I've not seen it around here, but I'm in a pretty rural area, with no large nurseries (meaning no great variety of anything).

Libby - thanks for coming for a visit!

MrBrownThumb - Now see, I prefer the look of mulch! I hate to see our plain, gray clay soil. If we had nice dark loamy soil, that would be one thing, but the dark shredded bark mulch looks so much better. But probably the main reasons I mulch is to conserve moisture and insulate in the winter. The value of that is more than I can tell you!

Rose - You won't be sorry if you mulch! And once you start, you won't ever want to not mulch again!

Nan - Thank you for the nice comments! That bed is just freshly planted, so everything is small. We had vinca vine in there before and a flowering almond and we lost ALL of it this past winter! :-( But I suppose it was due for a facelift anyway, at least where the vinca was concerned.

The split rail fence just borders our property on the south and east.

As far as the cocoa hulls being bad for dogs, I don't know. I think chocolate isn't bad for dogs if it's not a large amount. But you'd have to ask a vet to be sure.

Thanks all, for visiting my blog and leaving comments. I love reading them - it's like getting mail and I do love my mail... :-)

Dorothy said...

Kylee - Have I told you I love your blog! Thanks for the mulch info..I learned so much from it.
BTW, we also have 8 cats! (I thought we were the only ones.)

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