What’s the Purpose of Mulch?
The sun is shining in Texas, and for many that’s an invitation to get out into the garden, start barbecuing, or just lounge on the patio. When enjoying your outdoor space often you see the tree, shrubs, and flowers, but like many you probably take your mulch for granted—you do have mulch, don’t you?
Mulch is a vital tool in the smart property owner’s toolbox. It serves several purposes. Namely:
- As a Weed Barrier: Mulch blocks the light and suffocates weeds.
- For Moisture Retention: By blocking the light, mulch helps your soil retain more moisture so you have to water less often.
- As a Finishing Touch: Mulch adds a clean, decorative touch to your yard, helping boost curb appeal (and your home’s perceived value).
Mulch is just as varied as the plants in your yard, ranging from recycled to man made. Mulch can be made out of recycled rubber, straw, wood chips, glass, and rocks. Wood chips tend to be the most common and can be stained or left natural depending on the look you want to achieve.
Wood based mulch also comes in untreated and treated forms. Untreated means it was simply mulched and resold. Treated means it went through a heated process to kill off any weeds, insects, or diseases living on the mulched limbs. Most free mulches offered by municipalities are untreated. Because they’re untreated they often bring unwanted weeds and diseases into your flowerbeds. To be safe, always default to treated mulch. It doesn’t do you any good to bring in a product that causes the same problems it’s supposed to prevent.
Depending on the type of mulch you use, it can wash away over time, so be sure to replenish it so you can keep a 3” layer. Avoid doing too much or you can suffocate your plants for nitrogen and other valuable nutrients. When in doubt ask your nursery professional or lawn care pro for tips on mulch choice and application.