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The Benefits of Mulching

Mulch Harrisburg PA helps to prevent soil compaction, regulates the temperature of the soil, and suppresses weeds. It also adds organic matter and nutrients to the soil.

Grass clippings are a natural mulch that decomposes quickly and is very effective at suppressing weeds. Commercially produced mulches, like dyed shredded bark, can contain additives that are undesirable for vegetable gardens.

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Mulching is a simple but beneficial garden activity that accomplishes three things: it keeps moisture in the soil, controls weeds, and improves your landscaping look. You can make a simple, economical mulch from organic material such as leaves or kitchen scraps or purchase bagged and bagged organic mulch from garden centers. In addition to compost, you can also use animal manures (but make sure they have rotted for two years or more), stone, wood chips, and even pebbles. Mulch comes in various colors, textures, and shapes to suit your landscaping style.

Homemade garden compost is the best mulch for flower beds and vegetable gardens. It is rich in nutrients and able to retain moisture and suppress weeds. You can make your own garden compost by adding yard and kitchen waste to a pile with enough browns (dry leaves, twigs and branches) to balance the greens (food scraps, fruit and vegetable peelings, eggshells). Turn the pile frequently and keep it moist. A well-tended compost pile should be ready for use in about a year. When it is, it will have a dark, crumbly texture and smell like earth. You can also screen or sift the compost to remove large debris such as twigs and fruit pits and other items that haven’t broken down (you can use a piece of 1/4 inch hardware cloth for this purpose).

When you use compost as mulch, it is best spread about 2 to 4 inches thick over your planting area and work it into the topsoil with your fingers. A layer of mulch this deep will prevent weeds from growing, but be careful not to get it too close to plant stems. The benefit of using compost as mulch is that it will be slowly incorporated into the soil, providing micro-nutrients and encouraging the growth of healthy soil organisms. If you are concerned about the cost of purchasing compost, you can make your own mulch from any number of organic materials including shredded wood chips, shredded paper, grass clippings and pine needles. If you are using this type of mulch, it is important to avoid theinorganicvarieties that include black or red plastics, styrofoam and cardboard.

Wood Chips

Wood chips can be a great mulch for vegetables and fruit trees. They are made from chipped up tree trimmings and contain the best ratio of carbon to nitrogen for a good garden mulch. They also absorb moisture well. They should be spread at a depth of 4 to 6 inches to get the optimum benefits of weed suppression, water conservation and soil stabilization.

A layer of wood chips can help prevent the rot that often comes with over-watering because it helps hold soil moisture better. They can also help prevent erosion by keeping the soil in place during heavy rain or snow melt events. However, it is important to remember that a layer of wood chips is not a long-term solution for areas of your yard suffering from heavy erosion. In these cases you will want to use the chips as a temporary measure until you can create a more permanent solution like a berm or terrace.

Wood mulch is also a great option for creating walking paths around your garden or yard. Unlike a layer of compost or leaves, wood mulch does not require constant replacement and has an attractive natural appearance. It can also be used to create a more landscaped look in your garden by arranging the chips into walkways and designingate areas for specific plants or trees.

Another benefit of wood chips is that they will insulate the soil surface. Bare soil can be very hot on a summer day and can burn young roots. A thick layer of wood chips will keep the soil a few degrees cooler and allow the root systems to survive.

A downside of wood chips is that they can inhibit nitrogen uptake and lead to a deficiency in the garden, especially with annual crops like tomatoes or lettuce that have high nitrogen needs. They can also make the soil acidic and cause problems with pH-sensitive crops, such as blueberries. The solution to this problem is to mix the wood chips with compost or other materials that will increase their nitrogen content.

Newspaper

Newspapers are often used in the garden for mulching. They help keep soil cool in the summer, add organic material and prevent weeds from growing. They are also free and can be recycled. It is important to know that the black inks of some newspapers contain heavy metals, which are not good for gardens, but they do decompose quickly, and the toxins are carried away by earthworms. It is best to use a different ink color, or choose to use shredded paper. It is also a good idea to put a layer of grass clippings or shredded leaves over the newspaper for a more attractive appearance in the garden.

A newspaper is a publication printed on paper and issued regularly, typically once a day or once a week. It usually contains news and articles, and may include crosswords and horoscopes. Some have opinions sections, where people write short letters about stories in the newspaper. Some newspapers are delivered to homes, and others are bought at shops or at newsstands.

Some newspapers are classified by their size and type of news they cover. The two largest groups are broadsheets and tabloids. Broadsheets are usually larger than tabloids, and are associated with more serious journalism. In contrast, tabloids are often perceived as sensationalist and biased in their coverage of events.

The most common use of newspaper in the garden is as a light, inexpensive mulch. Place several layers of newspaper in the vegetable garden to suppress weeds and maintain a healthy soil. Four or five layers of paper should be enough to do the job, but be sure to anchor the papers down so they don’t blow away in a windstorm. Avoid walking on the paper, as it can become slippery. It is also important to note that it will take a few years for the newspaper to decompose and break down completely, so it’s best to apply an additional layer of mulch each season.

Another great option for mulch is discarded cardboard. It is biodegradable and can be layered with other materials to provide a more attractive garden. It is also a good choice for lining raised beds because it keeps weeds out and helps the soil retain moisture.

Pine Needle

Pine needles (known also as pine straw) are a great natural mulch that can be made from your own backyard trees or purchased in large bales. Pine needles provide a fine-textured mulch that is light, fluffy and absorbent. They keep weeds at bay and prevent water from washing away the soil. They are also a good choice for evergreen shrubs that need to maintain acid soil conditions. Camellia growers in the Gulf States spread pine needle mulch around their prized shrubs for this reason.

Although pine needles are a very valuable plant material, it is important to understand that they don’t perform as well as other organic choices such as shredded leaves, wood chips and compost in the garden or flowerbeds. They are not as effective at changing the pH of the soil, and they do not hold moisture in the ground as well as hardwood mulch or shredded leaves. However, they are very easy to work with, providing a fast, uniform coverage.

They also have a pleasant pine fragrance that is often used as an aromatic plant spray or in potpourri. Unlike some other types of leafy material, pine needles do not decompose easily, so they are best used as a top layer in the landscape.

Like all other organic materials, pine needles do compost, but because of their waxy coating and their large air spaces, they take much longer to break down than other mulches. To speed up the process, mix in a little dirt or old compost to introduce bacteria and fungi that do the composting.

If you have a yard or garden full of pine trees, or have friends with Pines, you can gather and rake up all the fallen needles for free and make a very economical garden mulch. If you don’t have a lot of pine trees nearby, purchasing pine needles is inexpensive and readily available at most home and garden centers. It is a much more environmentally friendly option than buying plastic mulch or even wood chippings from a lumber mill, because there are no tree limbs and bark that must be shredded to make the product.

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