A surprising number of gardeners we talk with still aren’t using the right mulch. More surprisingly, some gardeners still aren’t using a mulch at all. So, what’s the value of mulch? A quality mulch is like a carpet of love that shields your soil and plant roots from the sun’s abrasive rays. That layer of mulch keeps the soil cool, so the roots are in an agreeable environment and free to “root” around as they eat and drink nutrients found in the rich soil. Lastly, a quality mulch helps the soil retain water (and helps gardeners water less).

Life Without Mulch

Without a quality mulch, your soil is hit directly by the sun’s rays and the top few inches now play the role of protecting everything beneath. Those top few inches get fried and lose all of their nutrients, which is a bummer for your plants because they are used to sending some of their most productive roots up near the soil’s surface to find the tastiest nutrients. Essentially, if you aren’t using a mulch, you’re losing the top few inches of soil–as it becomes dry, lifeless dirt.

Life With the Wrong Mulch

Mulches come in many forms, such as rubber, freshly cut wood chips, raw wood shreds, painted wood chips and other crazy ideas. There are issues with these types of mulches–the main issues being they are toxic to your plants and they zap plant energy. Any mulches that are painted have chemicals that will make their way into your soil after repeated waterings. When plants are exposed to those chemicals they can become unhealthy and more prone to disease. Raw-wood mulches, which are very common in big box stores, zap energy from your plants. This happens because your plant’s roots will find tiny particles of raw wood and try to absorb them through their roots, but since the wood hasn’t even started the composting process, it isn’t anywhere close to broken down enough for the plant to absorb (and the plant wastes energy trying).

Water Your Garden, Not Your Mulch  

The next issue with many types of mulches is that they absorb water, essentially battling your plants for available water and pulling the coveted water away from your plants. Then, seeing that your plants need more H2O, you begin to water in heavier doses and more frequently, causing your water bill to go up. In this scenario you’re paying to water your mulch! Don’t do that.

Choosing the Right Mulch: Full Circle’s PROTECT

Full Circle’s PROTECT is a fertile mulch (one that’s started the composting process and has been significantly broken down). It’s full of nutrients that will benefit plants and can be easily absorbed by them. Think of it like this, you can’t feed raw carrots to babies, you have to boil them to soften them first. Well, your plants act the same as babies in this example. Full Circle’s PROTECT also provides a layer of drought resistance that protects your plants from drying out and actually SAVES you money on your water bill. It’s a win-win-win.

OK, that’s enough mulch talk for this post. But, we never tire of talking mulch, or gardening, or plants, or soil, or compost. So if you should ever have any questions, please call or write us … we’re always thrilled to talk.