What is the best mulch for raised bed gardens, is a question that is frequently asked of gardening professionals and also at garden centres. There is no definitive answer, if the truth be known, as there are several types of mulch that we could use and in each case one is better than the other. The usage of this type of material is becomming more prevalent in all types of gardens, as we are seeing the great benefits of this material and how it can help us going forward. For the gardeners that grow all types of vegetables or for those that just grow shrubs or flowers, the advantage of using mulch is seen as an important accessory and its benefit cannot be understated.
There are at least twenty types of mulch that I can name right away and if we looked further into this topic, there are probably as many more out there. People are becomming more and more inventive and innovative when it comes to gardening and all things garden related. We are probably aware that mulching in and around our growing vegetables is a great way to reduce unwanted hours of weeding, but mulching is not confined to that area on its own.
Popular types of mulch;
- Tree bark mulch,
- Wood chippings, sawdust or shavings,
- Autumn leaves and pine needles’
- Grass cuttings,
- Hedge trimmings,
- Coconut husks,
- Straw or hay,
- Garden compost.
The above are some of the most common types of mulch that are immediately available to us at garden centres and indeed we would have a lot of these at home, readily available to use. The best type to use is again down to personal preference and taste, but the most widely used is the bark mulch. When timber factories were shredding the limbs of trees as part of the trimming process and also when the bark was being removed from the tree trunks, before going through the factory proper, these were just discarded in the forrests and left to decay and decompose naturally. However the commercial benefit of this discarded bark and mulch was identified as a viable and valuable asset and hence its availability at garden centres, hardware stores and local government depots.
Other types of mulch;
- Pebble stones,
- Slate shale,
- Plastic membrane sheeting,
- Rubber shreddings,
- Newspaper or cardboard.
Like I mentioned earlier we have other types of mulching that are not so well known, never the less, these types are used from time to time. We have seen so many public parks and flower beds who will use mulching of some shape or form and it generally does a good job in keeping unwanted weeds down and keeping these facilities neat and tidy. So we can take our cue from these and if we use mulch at home in our raised beds it will do just as good a job for us.
The many advantages of mulching;
Primarily the main benefit of mulching is to keep weeds at bay and after that task has been achieved, everything else is a bonus. As raised beds have a tendency to dry out faster than ground gardens, the mulching does prevent this from happening and is considered a good moisture retention accessory. As the mulch breaks down and decomposes into the soil, it adds to the nutrition of the soil. Worms and other garden workers will be able to work more towards the surface of our gardens and this helps with soil enrichment as they do their thing underneath the layers of mulch. Finally, the rough texture and sharp edges that bark mulch has is a great deterrent for slugs and is a great asset in their elimination from our gardens. Not only do we as healthy fit gardening enthusiasts welcome all of these advantages, but I’m sure our senior and elder gardening folk will also welcome these benefits.
Disadvantages of mulching;
Given all the good work that we have just mentioned on the great benefits that mulching will do for us in our gardens, we must caution that there are some disadvantages to mulching also. The important issue that needs careful consideration when doing this type of work is that we don’t mulch too close to our vegetable stems. We can cause root collor rot as some crop varieties need air to breath and grow. Mulching may also slow down the drying out of the soil in our raised beds especially in the springtime, after a long cold wet winter, so this needs to be addressed if it’s an issue.
Mulching as a decorative landscaping art;
How often have we seen a front or back lawn and it has a tree growing right in the centre, which really adds to the landscaping appeal and breaks up the boring look of a big lawn. The tree is centred or perhaps planted to the sides and its immediate area around the trunk is always mulched with pebble stones or a similar type of material. Often a weed barrier membrane is laid down initially and then covered with decorative pebbles. It really adds beauty to this area and sometimes our flower or rose beds can have this type of work mulching carried out, for the same reasons as outlined above. So it’s not only our vegetable gardens will benefit from this work, but other areas of our backyards or lawns, can also benefit from this type of mulch landscaping.
In a previous post we have written about how its a good idea not to fill the raised beds up to the level of the timber frame sides, essentially for the purpose of mulching. So in essence a layer of approx 2-4 ” layer of mulch will adequately be sufficient for our needs. If needs be, there are some certain types of bark and coconut mulch available online and its reasonably priced. I trust that this information will be useful and informative to all and if you would like to contact us for any reason, please do so, via the comments section underneath.
Happy gardening to all.