Make the most of mulching


U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency notes that or­ganic mulches, which in­clude leaves, wood chips, com­post or grass clip­pings, can be used by home­own­ers who want to de­velop ecofriendly land­scapes.

Why mulch?

Mulching can ben­e­fit plants around a prop­erty in var­i­ous ways. Many peo­ple lay mulch be­cause the mulch helps soil re­tain mois­ture in the sum­mer, when tem­per­a­tures tend to be at their hottest. This can help plants sur­vive sum­mer heat waves.

Mulch also can be used to sup­press weeds. Weeds, which steal mois­ture plants need to build strong roots and sur­vive sum­mer, need light to grow. When laid cor­rectly, mulch de­prives weeds of the light they need to grow. Or­ganic mulches can even pro­vide homes for crick­ets and a type of bee­tle that feed on weed seeds.

Mulch also can de­ter harm­ful pests de­pend­ing on the type of mulch home­own­ers choose. When pur­chas­ing mulch, home­own­ers will have to choose be­tween the afore­men­tioned or­ganic mulch or man-made mulches, which may be made of plas­tic or rub­ber. While man-made mulches may re­pel pests, they also can have ad­verse ef­fects. Plas­tic, for ex­am­ple, can heat up in the sum­mer and cause plants to burn. Cer­tain or­ganic mulches can re­pel in­sects that can threaten plants. That’s be­cause the ma­jor­ity of or­ganic mulches in­crease the amount of ben­e­fi­cial bac­te­ria in the soil, and they also in­crease the pres­ence of help­ful in­sects that do not pose a threat to plant life. Those help­ful in­sects help keep harm­ful in­sects at bay. Com­post is a type of or­ganic mulch that may at­tract harm­ful in­sects. While that does not mean home­own­ers should shy away from us­ing com­post as mulch, they should know that they may need to em­ploy or­ganic in­sec­ti­cides to com­bat their un­wanted guests.

Mulch is a po­ten­tially valu­able tool home­own­ers can use to im­prove the look and health of their prop­er­ties.

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