The Pros and Cons of Different Types of Mulch

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Mulch can do great things for trees, shrubs and flower beds on your lawn, whether it’s retaining heat in the soil, trapping moisture so that the sun can’t dry everything up, controlling weeds and erosion or creating attractive footpaths that keep your grass from getting crushed and your soil from becoming compacted. However, it is important to take a given mulch’s potential drawbacks into consideration as well. Look through the following types of all-natural mulch to find out which ones are the most suitable for improving your lawn.

  • Wood Chip Mulch – Wood chip mulch is one of the most commonly used mulches, and for good reason. Wood chip mulch does everything a good mulch should—it retains heat, traps moisture, protects roots and adds nutrients to the soil as it degrades. However, if you are using wood from a fallen or cut tree that once grew on your lawn, beware: various trees, such as eucalyptus, some pine trees and some cedar trees contain chemicals in their wood that can actually inhibit plant growth.
  • Compost – Compost adds all kinds of nutrients to your soil, as well as acids, which are great for balancing soil that is overly alkaline. However, overly acidic soil can be harmed by the addition of acidic mulch and cause plants to die. You can determine the acidity of your soil using a DIY soil pH test, which can be found at most garden stores.
  • Pumice Stones – Pumice stones, which are light, porous volcanic rocks, make a good mulch due primarily to their ability to trap moisture, though they also absorb a small amount of heat from the sun and lend it to the soil. The holes in the rock collect water and deposit it into the soil, while the lightness of the stones keeps them from contributing to soil compaction.
  • Grass Clippings – Grass clippings provide your lawn with organic material it can use to grow more, and healthier, grass. The only potential downside to using grass as mulch is the fact that if weeds are among the clippings, you are spreading more weeds into your lawn. If you are going to try and use grass clippings as mulch, it is advisable to spend some time pulling up any weeds you can see before you mow to prevent more weeds from being planted by accident.
  • Pine Needles – If you have a pine tree or live near a pine forest, this will be an easy and convenient mulch for you to apply.  A thick layer of pine needles will block weeds and keep your soil warm and damp. Additionally, like compost, pine needles will add some acidity to your soil. Extra acidity is usually beneficial for soil, unless your soil is already more acidic than alkaline. Having too much of a good thing is usually considered a bad thing, and acidity in soil is no exception.

Selecting a mulch is an important decision. If you’d like to learn more about the types of mulches we have available in the Sacramento/Roseville area, contact Capital Landscape today.

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