Types of Mulches

If you work or like gardening, landscaping or farming, you must have heard of mulch. Mulch is a covering for the soil that is used to achieve several effects, which range from the practical to the productive to the aesthetic.

Because the needs of people that work in these areas are so different, manufacturers offer several types of mulch, in order to appeal a niche or market. There isn’t really one manufacturer that produces all types of mulch.

There are two main ways to classify the types of mulch. Perhaps the most common one is the one that classifies mulch in organic and inorganic, depending of the material they’re made from.

Organic mulch is mostly used for gardening. It can be made of several types of material, such as bark, grass, leaves, cocoa beans, hay, straw, sawdust, etc. This type of mulch is very ecological as it tends to break down and incorporate in the soil, adding nutrients to it. It also carries out most functions expected from mulch, such as soil temperature regulating, moisture retaining, and weed growing prevention.

On the other hand, non organic mulch is made out of rubber, plastic, or other materials that are recycled. It doesn’t break down like organic mulch, so it won’t become a part of the soil. It compensates it by lasting so long that it doesn’t need to be replaced in a long, long time. Non organic mulch is also very effective at moisture retaining, since it’s not permeable. It is used in gardening and farming, although some types of mulch can be used for other, specific purposes.

Another common way of separating types of mulch is by purpose. There are three types of mulch according to this selection: gardening mulch, farming mulch, and landscaping mulch.

Landscaping mulch is mostly concerned about productivity and plant growth, disregarding aesthetics completely. The types of mulch used depend on the crop and area to be cultivated and they are usually paired with a system of irrigation. One of the best examples of this is plastic mulch combined with drip irrigation. It is also preferred because it makes it much easier for farmers to keep the soil clean of foreign objects or parts of the plant that fall down.

Landscaping mulch is mostly concerned with the aesthetic look of an area. These types of mulch are mostly used for decoration or a practical use of the area, although they can still be used as planting mulch. For example, rubber mulch can be used for plant growing, or for covering playground equipment areas. In the last case, its purpose is to soften falls from children playing. Glass mulch is another example. It isn’t used for plant growing, but instead, for decoration. For example, to mark walking paths or to resemble a shiny river or stream.

Finally, gardening mulch combines both. It needs to help plants grow better but also to make the set look pretty. A combination of the two above is generally used.

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