One of the best ways of eliminating garden maintenance is to mulch our raised bed gardens. This is a system or method of preventing weed growth, it also cuts down on the amount of watering we have to do and if we do this in a certain way, we can also prevent slugs attacking our vegetables. So mulching for raised bed gardens, has become one of the most important chores in our gardening duties and it’s relatively easy to do.
There are many methods of doing this mulching and as we will see further on in this site, it’s inexpensive, but the money will have been well spent and will save us hours and hours of unnecessary work and maintenance in our gardening exercises. Regardless of whether we have raised beds or the open flat backgarden as our preferred method for growing our vegetables, mulching will work well in both cases. We may or not know that some of the most widely used mulching materials are bio-degradable and will after some time compost down and mix into the soil. There is also the fact that some of this mulching material will also assist as a fertilizer, so we can see immediately that this is another advantage to mulching our raised bed gardens.
Types of biodegradable mulch;
- Grass cuttings,
- Bark mulch chippings,
- Compost – homemade or bought,
- Newspapers or cardboard,
- Coconut shell,
- Hedge or leave trimmings.
Types of non – biodegradable mulch;
- Porus membrane liner
- Black plastic sheeting
- Stones or gravel
- Rubber shreddings or ( ground up tires )
Best types of mulch;
So we can see from our lists that there are multiple varieties of mulching materials for this purpose and what is the best type to use is entirely up to our own liking and taste. Price, naturally comes into the equation, but also, what we can easily get our hands on and what is readily available at our disposal. Most garden centres and nurseries and even hardware stores, all supply this material of some shape or make, but, we must remember that we have some of this already available ourselves at home.
My own preference would be the bark mulch as this is a very natural and organic product. It is biodegradable, is easy to manage and very simple to disperse over our raised beds. The advantage of having raised beds when it comes to mulching, is that the sides of the bed frame will keep all of our mulching material within the confines of the raised bed. Whereas mulching the open ground garden is difficult at times, due to containment and also birds will scatter this material everywhere in their search for worms, insects and so on. The other advantage of using bark mulch is that given its rough texture, slugs and snails hate travelling over and across this type of surface, thus acting as a great repellent for these critters.
Click here for Mulch Brick: Mulch Block
This is the added bonus or benefit of this type of mulch in that when it breaks down or composts into the earth eventually, it will nourish the soil and will fertilise same to a degree. It is afterall just a by product of what we grow in the form of our own homemade compost, leaves, hedge trimmings and grass to lesser degree. Newspaper or cardboard is primarily derived from wood pulp, which comes from trees and this will also breakdown and degrade into the soil eventually. However its a little difficult to apply compared to the bark mulch as we need to shape it around our plants, vegetables or shrubs . When the newspaper or cardboard is laid down, we then need to cover it with some other material as it will get blown away by the wind.
Grass cuttings, hedge trimmings or leaves compost would go well with this type of weed barrier, as they are heavy and would keep the paper in place. The newspaper will become porus in no time at all and will allow rain and water to permeate through to the soil, but would prevent weeds from coming through. Coconut shell bark or husks is a recent new invention and also works well as a mulching agent. It can be purchased as an hydrated product and we then need to leave it soak in a container ( wheelbarrow ) of water for a few hours before applying. The reconstituted coconut shell product will then cover a large area of ground and does the needful for us in our ongoing crusade against weeding and so on.
Inorganic non-biodegradable mulching materials;
When using this type of mulching for raised bed gardens, if by chance we are growing vegetables, this is not the best type to use. It is on the otherhand ideal for beds where there are plants or shrubs, that we would just plant once and leave them there for good. Maybe fruit or berry bushes, where again, we plant them and they are very seldom moved or re-transplanted. In this situation, I would put down the porus permeable ground cover liner, cut nicely approx 3″ out from the stem of the tree or shrub and then cover this with a layer of approx 2-4″ of decorative pebble stone or gravel. This system again, allows rainwater to penetrate through to the soil, but simultaneously prevents the weeds from coming through. Like the above examples, this system keeps the soil moist and prevents erosion from excessive rainfall.
I would not be a fan of the black plastic sheeting as it is non porus and the rainwater just runs across the top of this until it finds an escape route. It will get damaged eventually from the sun, but will not biodegrade, so it becomes unsightly after a while. The rubber shreddings are a no no either, unfortunately for similar reasons as the plastic sheeting.
Once again, I trust that this information is useful and hopefully will answer some issues that we have in relation to mulching for raised garden beds. If you have any further queries or questions in relation to any of the above, please contact us via the comments box down below and we will reply in due course.
Happy gardening to all,
” The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.
The second-best time is right now “.
– Author Unknown