Gardener''s Guide To Mulch

Having a successful and beautiful garden without mulch is like shampooing your hair without conditioner; it just doesn’t work! There are a myriad of choices available now on the market to suit every taste or style of garden and there are a plethora of options to fit in with everyone’s budget. This coupled with the inexhaustible list of benefits that mulch brings to your garden, it makes perfect sense to go out and mulch this weekend!

Benefits -

Weed Suppressant - Weeds are almost impossible to eradicate, but with a generous layer of mulch, sunlight can no longer reach them, thus they cannot grow!

Reduces Moisture Loss - In this environmentally conscious era, it is essential that we reduce our water usage. However, we do not want to compromise on our beautiful and often functional gardens. Mulch provides a barrier between the sun and the soil so in effect; there is less evaporation, which means less watering!

Temperature control - From the sun baking the ground, to the frosty mountainous ranges, mulch provides more of an even temperature for the soil and all of its inhabitants (worms!)

Feeding the soil - As mulch breaks down over time, it feeds the soil by adding organic matter. This is the quintessential element for good, healthy plant growth!

TIP - As some mulches break down you can get what’s called ‘Nitrogen Drawdown’ which is when microbes in the soil use up most of the soluble nitrogen in the top layer of the soil as these mulches decompose and deplete plants of nitrogen. This is common with milled products such as wood chips. Remedy this by adding a handful of blood and bone or dynamic lifter around the base of each plant

Styles -

Native Style garden - Leaf litter mulches are ideal for this style as they recreate the bushland floor with a mixture of leaves, twigs and woodchips. Eucalyptus mulch, forest fines, or any recycled hardwood mulch are good. To create a dry river bed feature in the garden, lay the area with different sized river pebbles and lucky stones, sticking to earthy, natural tones.
Leaf Litter: $34 per cubic metre
Forest Fines: $39 per cubic metre

Tropical Style garden - Rich brown and ochre tones work well here. Horticultural pine bark, coloured wood chip or eucalyptus mulch, often accentuate the bright colours of the foliage.
Horticultural pine bark: $34 per cubic metre

Cottage - Romantic rambling gardens look best with lighter, finer textured mulch. I prefer to use sugarcane mulch, Lucerne chaff, rice hulls or straw, be careful that your mulch isn’t going to sprout a crop throughout your garden and create more weeding for you. Spent mushroom compost is also great to feed this style garden simply by using it on top of the soil. Bag of Sugarcane Mulch: $15

Formal - Going for mulch with a consistent texture and colour is important to reflect the perfection and manicured design of a formal garden. Try a finely graded pine bark, woodchip, eucalyptus mulch or mushroom compost.

Often, for gardens with difficult access, or even smaller areas, bags of mulch are a preferable option and start from $8 per 60 litres.

Inorganic Mulch -
These are mulches that do not break down so they have all the benefits of the above mulches but do not add nutrition to the soil. The advantage is they do not need to be reapplied each year. They come in a huge range of sizes and colours ($ 8.50 per 15kg bag).

Angels Advice

Can save up to 60% of watering needs
Lay mulch to a depth of 50mm
Avoid building up around stems or trunks of trees to avoid collar rot.

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