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Choosing The Right Mulch

Mulch. It's not the most glamorous subject, but you might be surprised by how many types of mulch there are. Check out the list at the end of this article. Some types may not be available in your area, but the list shows you the huge variety of mulches available.  

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pply mulch every other year, or even every third year. This gives the mulch a chance to decompose into the soil. 

If mulch becomes too high around trees and plants, it can smother them, literally. Building up the mulch also has the effect of pushing your fall bulbs deeper into the ground, which can prevent them from blooming.

Choose a mulch that works with your own yard. Also think about the color of your house when picking a mulch. If you have a grey or white house, the darker black mulches look really good.

Mulch Types

Spent Hops: Ask a local brewery about these.

Buckwheat Hulls: Buckwheat hull mulch is fluffy and is excellent for use around perennials and annuals. I love the look and smell.

Bark Mulch-Just what it says ground up bark.  Pine, hemlock and other mixes.  Tends to build up over the years and not break down very quickly.  Turn it over instead of getting it new every year.

Cocoa-bean Hulls: Cocoa-bean hull mulch is a rich brown color. It can turn moldy, and some report it is toxic to dogs.

Peanut Hulls: Peanut hull mulch is available from garden centers near peanut growers and processors. This great mulch adds nitrogen as the hulls break down.

Lawn Clippings: If you use this, use it dry. 

Leafmold: My neighbor uses this. She chops up the leaves in the spring. It's the least expensive of the mulches.

Manure: Available as a bagged commercially composted product at garden centers, or available fresh from stables and farms. Fresh manure should be composted for at least six months to reduce nitrogen burn when applied around plants and to reduce the viability of weed seeds in the manure itself.

Peat Moss: If you use this, use a thick layer of it. It looks nice and will certainly hold moisture.

Pine Needles: I like using these around my blueberry bushes. There is conflicting evidence about whether these really add acidity to the soil.

Sawdust:  This can take nitrogen out of the soil. Use in paths.

Straw: I like using straw or salt marsh hay. It also acts as winter protection for plants.

Wood Chips: Can be obtained from arborists, utility companies, municipal yard waste facilities, and garden centers. Wood chips are long-lasting and make a good overlayment for paths and walkways.


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