If you are looking for an organic solution to your mulch needs, here are 5 natural types of mulch for gardens that are easy to use and provide all the benefits necessary to keep your plants growing healthy and happy.
Each helps suppress weeds, conserves moisture, adds nutrients to the soil, and keeps plant roots warm in winter and cooler in summer. Keep in mind, though, that the one you use will depend on your site, crop or plant type, weather, and soil.
Bark mulch – This is readily available, breaks down naturally, and looks beautiful amongst your plants. It comes in a variety of natural colors and will last a year or more depending on the size.
Leaf mold – If your trees drop a lot of leaves, put the bag on your mower and collect them. Using the mower will also chop them up. Both leaf mold and leaf mulch will rot very quickly and it is free and easy to use, depositing plenty of nutrients in soil on its way out.
Straw – Depending upon where you live, straw may be cheap and plentiful. You can get it at a feed and livestock store or many nurseries. It lasts throughout the season and does an excellent job keeping down weeds. Unfortunately, some straw may contain weed seeds and contribute to the weed war so make sure you find and use the good quality straw.
Pine needles – You may already have evergreens in your garden that drop needles. Instead of fighting them, use them! The needles knit themselves together and form a nice web of mulch around plants.
Compost – You can make your own or purchase good compost for use as mulch. Make sure it is well rotted or it may contain weed or other seeds. This is where the DIYer really shines. You can make compost out of kitchen scraps, end of season plant debris, and add in items like manure or worm castings to enrich it.