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ONE GARDENER TO ANOTHER: Varieties of mulch: Pros and cons | Columns | enewscourier.com

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The main reasons for backyard gardeners to use mulch are to suppress weeds in warm weather, keep the soil insulated at lower temperatures, and maintain moisture throughout the year. These factors, along with the cost and its appearance on the flower bed, are the main points to consider when choosing a mulch for use in the garden.

The following are the mulches most commonly used by farmers, and the pros and cons of each type of mulch:

Pine needle mulch (pine grass)

For many reasons, this option is widely used. It is one of the cheapest options on the market. If you are lucky to have pine trees on your property, then this is a good free option. As a reward, the rake can exercise. Using a layer of pine needles of 2 to 3 inches will help suppress weeds and keep the soil warm and moist.

Pine grass decomposes slowly, so it only needs to be replenished once a year. However, many gardeners put down their mulch in spring and fall. Since pine grass is acidic, it will feed acid-loving plants such as azaleas, blueberries, boxwoods and hydrangea when it decomposes.

Pine bark mulch

Pine bark covering is one of the most commonly used coverings on beds, mainly because it is the most visually appealing. It also does a good job of keeping the soil warm and retaining moisture and suppressing weeds. This is an affordable option, only slightly more expensive than pine.

The pine bark mulch decomposes quickly, which is an advantage because it can add nutrients to the soil, but the disadvantage is that you must replace it regularly. Pine bark mulch may also attract insects, especially spider mites. The effect is not very good on slopes or areas where rainwater can easily wash it off.

Straw and hay

Straw and hay are not as aesthetically satisfactory as other mulches, but they provide excellent thermal insulation in summer and winter. Especially straw, is the best choice for winter mulching, because the needles of straw are hollow and provide dead space, which is ultimately an ideal insulator. They are ideal mulch when planting new lawns.

Unfortunately, hay often has the disadvantage of weed seeds, which can inadvertently introduce weeds into weeds that did not exist before. Unless it is provided for free, its price is slightly higher than that of pine needles or bark.


The leaves are a wonderful free covering; however, they need to be chopped before use. They are great when used on vegetable beds in the fall, as they decompose throughout the winter, thereby increasing soil nutrients.

They are usually used near trees and bushes and in less formal environments. The leaves also attract attract, which is good for soil health, helps soil aeration and compaction, and helps control nematodes.

Over time, the leaves tend to firm up and form cushions, thereby inhibiting the flow of air and water, especially if they are not chopped up. When the leaves become dull, it is easy to tilt and "fleece" them.

Grass clippings

Grass clippings have many disadvantages. They have a high water content and therefore decompose quickly. Unfortunately, this makes them very slimy and produces an unpleasant smell.

They tend to dissipate and inhibit air flow. If you use herbicides, insecticides, or herbicide-treated pruning, they may be harmful to your plants. It is best to leave grass clippings on the lawn to return nutrients to the soil. Advantages: They are free.

Inorganic covering

There are a variety of inorganic coverings available. Although the rocks and gravel look clean, they are expensive. They also absorb heat from the sun, which can cause the area to become hot and dry. It is best to use these materials in beds without plants or in beds that are resistant to drought.

Rock and gravel coverings are often used with plastic or fabric beautifying sheets, which adds to the cost. The plastic cloth does not allow proper air circulation, nor does it allow water to penetrate into the soil. Although fabric sheets are more suitable for the passage of air and water, weeds can also penetrate the fabric.

Rubber mulch is usually made of ground, recycled tires, and dyed to praise or stand out in the garden. It is good at suppressing weeds and maintaining moisture in the soil. Research is still ongoing to determine the toxicity of rubber coverings. It will not decompose and can remain in the soil for a long time. It is one of the more expensive covering options.

For any mulch, make sure to keep a few inches away from the roots of plants and trees to avoid damage from moisture or cause mold to form. Until next week, happy gardening.

-Can reach Irland, the chief gardener member of Limestone County

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More information about major gardeners in Limestone County.

Calvin Eugene Powers, a 91-year-old Athenian, died at his residence on March 20, 2021. The grave service will be held at Pettusville Cemetery at 11 am on Monday, March 22, 2021. Sunday, March 21, 2021, from 6 to 9 pm, at Spry Funeral Home.

Larry Allen Chapman, 75, from Athens, Alabama, died on Friday, March 19, 2021, at Huntsville Hospital. The service will be held on Monday, March 22, 2021 at 2 pm in the Spry eral Hall, hosted by Odis Duncan and Larry Blankenship. The visit time is Sunday, March 21, 2021, 6-9pm.

Connie Clark-Autrey, 56, died on March 14, 2021. With brothers Keith and Mike Hatchett. The survivors included a child, Bryan Clark (Ashley); a grandson, Luis Clark; two siblings, Johnny Hatchett and Janet Seedorf ( Janet Seedorf); and...

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