Many people ask us which landscaping mulch to use, when and for what reasons. Here I have provided a brief mulching guide.
This has to be the best garden mulch product that there is. The reasons are two fold. The nutritional status of young pine bark is very, very low. This means that weeds that germinate on the top of the bark (remember wind blown weed seed is the main contaminant of mulch products) regularly fail, even better if a black landscape mulch fabric has been used below the bark. The chunky nature of this decorative bark product also helps. The second great thing about bark mulch is that it is long lasting, but eventually breaks down into a high quality soil conditioner that can be incorporated into your border top soil.
If you compare this with the other two mulch types:
Although when compost mulch is laid it is sterile of garden weed seeds, because of the composting process, they provide perfect rooting conditions for wind blown weed seeds. They also provide perfect conditions for weed shoots that are germinating through from depth.
These products will provide great short term mulching effects, especially in your garden vegetable beds or annual borders. They are great for incorporating into your garden border top soil at the end of the season.
In contrast to both the above types of mulching products, these mulches cannot be incorporated into you soil. Gravel must be laid on to a weed control fabric to prevent interzonal mixing. Over time there becomes a build up of organic matter underneath the gravel. This allows wind blown weed seed to germinate and grow. Although you can use weedkillers to help a gravel mulch, both residual and contact (eg Roundup) it will eventually become a home to garden weeds. The only real organic way of retrieving the situation (and very much depending on the size of the garden area involved!) Is to lift and wash the gravel through a sieve and then replace the weed control membrane before relaying the gravel chippings again. Not easy for anything more than 2 tonnes of gravel.
How and when to lay garden mulch
Bark Chips for weed control on shrub borders can be laid at any time but early spring, when wind blown seed has reduced and before much weed growth has started, is the best time. We always recommend the weed control membrane underneath as your bark layer can be thinner and the weed control will last longer.
For the compost mulch, apply as soon as you have finished planting out your annuals or vegetables. If you are delaying planting for any reason, then apply the spent mushroom compost or manure in March and then plant through it later on.
For the gravel, very much like the bark mulch, you can apply it any time but early spring is the best. If there is good weed growth before laying, it is best to apply some roundup 2 weeks before mulching the weeds. This helps to control any stronger (thistles, couch grass, dockens etc) garden weeds.
Here at turfandstuff we have the following extensive list of landscaping mulch products which can be used for mulching your garden. They are available for you to buy in both smaller and bulk bags. Delivery is always included in the price you see. You can click on the links to be taken to the correct pages.