Living, Gardening

8 Great Reasons Gardeners Should Mulch

If you think you don't have time to mulch your garden, picture this: a well-drained, protected, and weed-free planting area... Nope, that's not a dream; it's a reality of mulching! 🌱

In this article, find our top 8 reasons why you should mulch like it’s going out of style! Teaser: we'll also disclose how you can get mulch for free.

If you don’t have time to read the article, the video below has most of the information in it, and I promise, it’s actually not about cars — it’s about mulch (I’m not responsible for the clickbait title though, it’s actually my cousin Tony’s fault).

#8: Mulching preserves heat

If you’re trying to grow more tropical plants in an area that’s not so tropical, you definitely need to mulch.

The deeper and fresher the mulched area the more heat will be given off (up to about 65 degrees Celsius). That’s because the plant matter is being metabolized by micro-organisms, and one of the byproducts of this chemical reaction is heat.

Now, don’t go too crazy, though. If you mulch too high up some trees trunks it can actually kill them by suffocating their roots which require access to oxygen.

Depending on the type of mulch you add, it can also change the chemical composition of the soil, so make sure you aren’t adding a tree that has toxic bark or high levels of acidity in it.

It should go without saying, but adding the mulch with chemicals and dyes added to prevent insects is also a terrible idea, especially if you plan to eat from the plants near that mulch. Who even knows what’s in that stuff?

#7: Mulching provides nutrients

The wrong kind of mulch can be bad for your plants, but in most cases adding mulch will replenish the soil with nutrients.

The dying material will also attract fungi to the area. It will break down the materials further into more bioavailable compounds, and having fungi around your plants is also a good thing, typically (unless it’s a rare invasive type and causes an infection).

The reason most fungi are good — aside from helping digest plant matter so the trees can absorb it — is that in times of drought fungi will trade stored water in their subterranean networks with the plants for sugars which can keep plants alive until the rain comes back.

#6: Mulching protects the roots

Adding mulch to your plants can help protect their roots from the harsh rays of the sun as well add an insulating layer that prevents evaporation of water before the roots have a chance to absorb it.

This is especially important if you live in hot, dry areas, or your trees' roots are exposed. Or in areas that are extremely wet, or prone to heavy downpours, mulch can also protect the soil around your plants from being compressed or eroded.

#5: Mulching provides better drainage

If you elevate an area a little with some mulch before you plant a tree, the increased surface area the hill creates and the spongy layer of woody material will allow for better, more even drainage.

#4: Mulching is stylish

Need I say more?

#3: Mulching keeps weeds out

Why spend so much time weeding when you can smother weeds with mulch?

Any weeds that come up after this will be easy to see and eliminate. The mulch will usually keep weeds from germinating for at least 6 months after application or longer, depending on how thick you layer it.

#2: Mulching marks the planting area

Now that you have a weed-free zone under your trees or bushes, why not plant some other things in that area that can outcompete the pesky weeds before they have a chance to return?

If you’re clever, you can find plants that help each other survive and increase the success of the plant you mulched around. This is called companion gardening, and I wrote an article about it. Check it out!

#1: You can get mulch for free!

You heard correctly, but please don’t tell too many people, because then all of us permaculture gardeners are going to have a waiting list of neighbors all vying for that amazing mulch.

That’s right, you can get all the mulch you want.

Once a year I get mulch that would cost me $363 + $40 delivery fee if I ordered it from a nursery company (about 13 cubic yards going at 27.99 each). Not to mention, having mulch delivered saves a lot of plasic bags that would otherwise end up in landfills or the stomachs of whales.

But how can you get it for free? It’s as simple as calling your local tree companies or utility companies that have to trim or remove trees as part of road and power line maintenance. Your call might even save that perfectly useful mulch from ending up in a landfill, where the tree company would have to pay a disposal fee.

A win-win for everybody, including your plants!

Happy Mulching!


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About Justin Lewis

Justin is a co-founder of NatureHub as well as a science and wilderness therapy teacher, permaculture and sustainability expert, naturopathic remedies enthusiast, and ethical living advocate.⠀
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