Mulch is any ground or grainy material you spread over a dirt surface as a covering. There are good reasons for using mulch – it not only improves a lawn’s curb appeal but also delivers benefits for the soil.

Mulch looks good

Mulch improves the appearance of your landscaping. It gives definition to flowerbeds, frames trees and shrubs, and provides a more manicured look for your lawn.

Mulch can be made from various materials, and so it comes in many shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. You can customize the look and feel of your yard or garden using certain types of mulch.

Mulch helps your plants

Mulch not only makes a garden bed more attractive, it helps prevent water evaporation and retain moisture in the soil – an important factor in our Indiana climate, which can have long dry spells during both summer and winter. Mulch also helps keep the soil cool, maintaining a more even ground temperature.

Mulch also suppresses the growth of weeds, which not only look bad but compete for space with your plants and continually try to crowd them out.

Mulch helps the soil

Mulch made from organic material will eventually decompose. As it does, it can help improve soil fertility. Adding organic material to the soil improves water drainage in the heavy clay of Indiana soil. It also feeds the microbes and organisms that help balance the soil’s ecosystem.

Various types of organic mulches include:

  • Bark
  • Classic wood
  • Compost
  • Grass clippings
  • Shredded leaves
  • Straw
  • Plastic and landscape fabric
  • Gravel and aggregate stone

Mulch considerations

What you use for mulch and how much you use depend on where you are placing it and what kind of look and benefit you want for your landscaping. For example, bark and wood mulches are good around trees, shrubs, and garden beds where you want the benefit to your soil. Plastic or fabric may be helpful for weed control but may smother good growth. Gravel and stone allow excellent drainage but are hard to remove if you change your mind.

It’s a good idea to carefully consider your goals and then review your options. The end result can be a mulch cover that will be pleasing to you and your soil year-round.

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