What Are The Benefits of Mulch?

Choosing the right mulch for your gardens and pathways is just as important as choosing the right soil or compost blend. However, mulch happens to be an important gardening tool that sometimes goes unnoticed or underutilized. Here’s why mulch is an important product to use in your garden, and how it might be a game-changer for those gardeners that find the Utah climate tricky to deal with in the spring and summer months.

What Exactly Is Mulch?

Before we dive into the ultimate benefits of mulch and all the product has to offer, let’s be clear on what mulch is and how it should be used. Mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of your soil. Think of your mulch as a blanket for exposed soil. Mulch can be made with a variety of materials, including leaves, pine straw, grass clippings, wood chips, sawdust, and shredded bark. Mulches can also be synthetic materials such as rubber or plastic sheeting.

Although you might feel inclined to use a synthetic material, we like to recommend using natural and biodegradable materials when it comes to personal gardening. There are natural materials that do not biodegrade or simply take decades to fully break down—like stones and small shells. Those materials definitely have a place in landscaping, but they provide less benefit to soil and compost. 

Why Mulch Matters: How Will It Help My Garden?

Mulches perform many functions—regulating soil temperature, reducing evaporation from the soil surface, suppressing weed growth, and improving soil quality over time as the mulch decomposes. These benefits will help you save time weeding and watering your garden, while also creating a healthier growing environment for your plants! Let’s take a closer look at those benefits.

  • Retaining Moisture - As mulch naturally acts as an insulating barrier against evaporation, it does wonders at protecting delicate soils from harsh rains and winds. As mulch holds moisture in the soil, it allows a gardener to cut down their watering time (and frequency). This also encourages plants to become more drought-tolerant, which is an invaluable factor in the high desert climate of Utah.

  • Helps to Moderate Soil Temperature - Feeder roots of plants are often doing the most work to keep a plant sustained. These roots grow within the first several inches of soil. This means that those important roots are near the top of the soil. When these roots are protected from extreme heat or freezing temperatures, their chances of survival are greatly increased. By adding a layer of mulch, you’re effectively adding a protective barrier to those sensitive feeder roots.

  • Mulch Looks Appealing - Mulch isn’t simply great for keeping plants and shrubbery healthy and happy, it also looks great! Most mulch gives any pathway, garden, or tree line a uniform look, and can help to set garden beds apart from other areas.

  • When Should I Apply Mulch?

    The best time to apply mulch is in early spring after you have prepared your flower beds by removing all dead plant debris. You should remove any weeds that have grown during winter dormancy. Applying mulch at this time will help reduce water evaporation from the soil surface during dry periods and even helps suppress weed growth.

    What Makes a Good Mulch?

    There are a plethora of options out there when it comes to mulch, but not every mulch is created equally. Much of the benefits of mulch come as a result of the decomposition stage. So, the best kind of mulch is one that will break down over time and add nutrients to your compost and soil. The most important factor? A mulch should never contain harmful elements that might negatively impact your garden or yard after decomposition. That’s why it’s vital to choose a mulch that comes from a purely sustainable source, like our ever-popular black shredded mulch

    By using leaves or smaller shredded bark for garden beds and vegetable patches, the mulch should break down into near soil-like material over time, allowing you to amend your garden beds after a full season rather than remove the entire mulch layer altogether. Have walkways that need to be covered? Using larger mulch may not significantly improve the soil condition of said areas, but it can help prevent soil erosion and weeds.

    Contact Us Today

    Spring is here and it’s time to get our gardens and pathways ready! Whether you’re looking to liven up the look of your garden paths, or you’re trying to keep raised gardens healthy, we have the mulch, topsoil, and compost products that can help your gardens succeed. Not sure what mulch would be best? Contact us today and let the team at Asphalt Materials help you find the right products for you.