If you have flower beds, you probably want them to look their best. Many people believe that the perfect way to do this is to mulch. Though this might be true, there is more to mulch than simply looking good.
Mulch has many benefits, including stopping weed growth and helping your flower bed retain moisture. It also can keep insects under control and keep pests away.
If you have decided to mulch, how do you know which mulch is the best? There are many different types of mulch out there, and mulch isn’t the cheapest material. So, let’s look into what the best mulch for your flower bed might be.
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Choosing the Best Mulch for Flower Beds
Honestly, the best mulch for your flower bed is the one you are most willing to put up with. The thing is, not all mulch is created equal, and you have to maintain it.
Some gardeners love mulch like manure or compost thanks to the great nutrients that these materials can bring. But you have to keep in mind that these mulches might not have the best odor.
Other people like specialty mulch, like rubber mulch, because it looks very nice, but it doesn’t bring any nutrients to the bed. So, you can see that there really is no “best” mulch. Let’s look into this a little further:
Benefits of Mulch in Flower Beds
Mulch is a really beneficial addition to your yard. There is no better way to keep the weeds under control, and it definitely brings a lot of beauty to your property. Finally, mulch helps to promote the growth of strong, healthy plants.
Additionally, mulch is a great insulator in both warm and cool weather. It helps to keep the soil on the cooler side when the air temperature is scorching. It also, of course, helps to keep heat in when the temperature drops.
It doesn’t matter what you are growing, dramatic temperature swings can be damaging to your plants, and the mulch helps to protect your plants.
On top of this, adding mulch to your flower bed helps to keep the soil moist, which means you don’t need to water as much. It also helps to shield the plants from heavy rains.
Finally, it adds valuable nutrients to the soil. As the mulch breaks down, it decomposes directly into your soil, adding valuable nutrients.
What is the Perfect Mulch for the Job?
There is an endless supply of different mulch options on the market. Really, it all depends on what you are going to mulch. Here, we are going to talk mostly about flower beds, but there are other areas you can mulch, too.
Some people might feel overwhelmed with the options. How are you supposed to know the difference between pine chips and bark? Straw or cypress? Dyed mulch or natural? When it comes to mulch, there are literally hundreds of options.
You can also layer mulch. In a flower bed, for instance, you can use shredded leaves to mulch, but then top that with a mulch made from hardwood.
Now, we can dive a little deeper into the best mulch for your flower bed.
If there is any type of mulch that you might be familiar with, it’s dyed mulch. Black, red, and brown are common colors that tend to show up in landscaping and flower beds across the land.
Generally, dyed mulch is made from wood that is considered to be waste, such as a shipping pallet. It is then ground up into smaller pieces, and then sprayed with dye.
Keep in mind that if you are going to buy dyed mulch, you are going to pay for it. Typically, it is up to 40% more expensive than traditional mulch, and if you put in into your flower bed, you have to choose the right color.
Also, remember, that this color is from a dye, so it will fade over time. Typically, you must replace the mulch each year in order to retain the color you choose.
Many people also choose to mulch with rocks. There are certainly pros and cons when it comes to rock mulch. One of the pros of rock as mulch is that is doesn’t break down, so it’s considered to be semi-permanent.
A con of choosing rock as a mulch is that it tends to get spread out, and it looks messy, especially when your plants shed leaves or petals. Rock also doesn’t give any type of nutrients to your soil.
If you are growing plants that grow tall, like sunflowers, you might need something strong to keep them standing tall. This is when rubber mulch can be a great option.
However, for the most part, rubber mulch isn’t a great idea for flower beds. It doesn’t help the soil, it tends to spread around, and when it gets hot out, there is certainly a rubbery odor in the air.
Fresh Wood or Sawdust Mulch
Some people also like fresh wood chips or saw dust as mulch. But, since the wood will decompose, you have to be cautious as the decaying wood can steal nitrogen from the soil.
As for sawdust, you must be careful. It can blow away or mat up, which means water might not get into the soil. It’s best to mix sawdust in with other types of mulch.
Landscape Fabric as Mulch
If you like landscape fabric, it can really help to keep weeds under control and help to keep the soil moist. However, there are some issues with this type of mulch.
For instance, some gardeners lay down landscape fabric, but then put wood chips on top of the fabric. Unfortunately, weed seeds often settle into the chips, but can’t get under the fabric, so you still get weeds anyway.
Some people also like living mulch. This is actually living plants, like ground cover, which also has its advantages. Clover, alfalfa, and buckwheat are examples of living mulch.
If you are going to use living mulch in your flower bed, you can help to prevent erosion.
Pine Needle Mulch
Some people also like to use pine needles as mulch. This is a type of organic mulch that can help to bring acid into the soil. Pine needle mulch is good for most flowering plants since they generally need more acidic soil.
Properly Applying Mulch
Now that you know a bit about what the best mulch for your flower beds might be, you need to know how to apply it correctly. There are generally two rules to keep in mind.
First, you should weed the soil before you put down mulch on it. If you are mulching over weeds that are already existing, they can easily grow through.
The second rule is to know how much to lay down. Approximately two inches of mulch is good for shady areas, but you need a bit more than that in areas that get a lot of sun, or in areas that grow a lot of weeds.
Speaking of weeds, if you know an area is prone to weeds, you can also lay newspaper on top of the soil, and then top that newspaper with mulch.
Finally, the best thing to do when choosing the best mulch for your flower beds is to choose what you like. All of these mulch options have pros and cons, so consider these carefully before making your choice.