Beyond the Size

Mulch Matters: How to Choose Calculate and Make Your Own Mulch

Mulch and its Uses

A well-kept garden is a sight to behold. However, it requires constant work to keep it in top condition.

One crucial aspect of garden maintenance is ensuring appropriate soil moisture, which is where mulch comes into play. Mulch is a layer of decomposed organic materials, cover crops, or vegetation that helps regulate soil temperature, retain moisture, and reduce weed growth.

This article will explore the different types of mulch, how to calculate the amount of mulch needed, and the difference between buying bulk and bagged mulch.

Types of Mulch

Mulch is available in various types, each with unique characteristics that best suit specific purposes. Some common types include bark chips, wood chips, straw, leaves, grass clippings, and gravel.

Bark chips are made from the bark of trees and are great for decorative purposes as they break down slowly. They are ideal for preventing weeds from growing and protecting plants from extreme weather conditions.

Wood chips are made from trees’ branches and trunks, providing a natural and cost-effective way to mulch gardens. They absorb moisture, keep soil temperatures even, and minimize erosion.

However, they break down much faster than bark chips. Straw is an excellent choice for vegetable gardens as it is lightweight and easy to spread.

This type of mulch keeps moisture in the soil, suppresses weed growth, and provides an ideal habitat for earthworms. Leaves are a byproduct of pruned trees and are a great way of recycling.

They decompose quickly, adding nutrients to the soil, and are suitable for areas with mild climates. Grass clippings are rich in nitrogen and help control weed growth while retaining moisture.

However, it is essential to use dry grass to avoid odor or mold problems.

Gravel is an inorganic mulch option that provides a long-lasting solution for gardens with heavy traffic.

It improves soil drainage and retains moisture in hot, dry areas.

Calculation of Bags Needed

The quantity of mulch required depends on the garden size and the type of mulch being used. Bagged mulch usually comes in 2 cubic feet packs, and a cubic yard is 27 cubic feet.

The standard measurement for bagged mulch is that 13.5 bags equal one cubic yard. To determine the number of bags required, measure the length and width of the garden area.

Multiply the two values to determine the area of the garden. Then, divide the area by 108 (the number of square feet in a yard) to determine the number of cubic yards needed.

Multiply this number by 13.5 to determine the number of bags needed. Bulk vs.

Bagged Mulch

When choosing mulch, gardeners need to decide between buying bulk or bagged mulch. Bulk deliveries offer the advantage of being cost-effective, especially for large gardens.

On the other hand, bagged mulch is available in small, manageable packages, making it ideal for small gardens.

Cost Comparison

One significant advantage of bulk purchases is the cost-effectiveness. Suppliers offer bulk mulch at a lower cost per cubic yard compared to buying bagged mulch.

The price difference can be up to 50% lower, depending on where you purchase the mulch. For example, if you purchase Rubberific Rubber Mulch at a retail store, expect to pay twice as much compared to purchasing bulk rubber mulch.

Minimum Purchase Requirement for Delivery

Bulk purchases usually require a minimum purchase requirement for delivery. If your garden needs less than that amount, consider purchasing bagged mulch.

For bulk deliveries, the minimum purchase requirement ranges from three to twenty cubic yards, depending on the supplier.

Conclusion

Mulch plays an essential role in maintaining the health of a garden. Gardeners can choose from various mulch options, each with unique characteristics suited for specific needs.

Calculating the amount of mulch needed is dependent on the garden’s size and type of mulch used. Bulk mulch is cheaper per cubic yard and ideal for large gardens compared to bagged mulch.

When choosing to purchase in bulk, gardeners must consider the minimum purchase requirement for the supplier’s delivery service. By selecting the right mulch type and quantity, gardeners can ensure their gardens thrive throughout the year.

DIY Mulch

Mulch is a natural material that helps to enrich soil and improve the appearance of gardens. While many gardeners may choose to purchase mulch, making your own is a practical option.

In this article, we will explore how to make homemade mulch and cover its practical uses, the instant use of homemade mulch, and the lifespan of mulch.

Making Your Own Mulch

To make your own mulch, you need organic material, such as dead branches, bark, leaves, grass clippings, pine needles, and shredded paper. Choose materials that are readily available in your location and do not contain toxins or pesticides.

A wood chipper such as the Patriot Products CSV-2515 can make shredding larger materials more manageable. To shred smaller materials, place them in a plastic bag and use a lawnmower to chop them up into smaller pieces.

Dead branches can be chipped or cut into smaller pieces and used as mulch. Bark from trees or shrubs can be ground up and mixed with other organic materials.

Pine needles are a great natural mulch that helps to regulate soil pH. Shredded paper from your home office can also make excellent mulch.

Grass clippings should be allowed to dry out before use. Spread them thinly on a tarp and let them dry out for several days before adding them to the garden.

They should not be used in large quantities as they can heat up and form a mat that is difficult for water to penetrate.

Instant Use of Homemade Mulch

Once you have made your homemade mulch, you do not need to store it for long periods, as it is available for use immediately. You can add it to your garden beds, around trees and shrubs, or use it to make compost.

Composting is the process of breaking down organic materials such as food waste, grass clippings, and leaves into nutrient-rich compost. Adding homemade mulch to the compost pile helps to speed up the composting process by increasing the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio.

The mulch helps to retain moisture, preventing the compost from drying out, and adds beneficial microorganisms to the compost.

Practical Lifespan of Mulch

The practical lifespan of mulch depends on the material used, the garden location, and the weather conditions. Most mulches last between one to two years, although they can have a lifespan of up to seven years.

The lifespan of mulch is impacted by composting, as the breakdown of organic materials removes its protective layer. Extreme weather conditions such as temperature dips and heavy rainfall can reduce the lifespan of mulch.

The practical use of mulch should take into account the season. During winter, mulch helps to regulate soil temperature, keeping it warm and reducing the likelihood of freezing.

In the summer, mulch helps to retain moisture, reducing the need for constant watering.

Conclusion

Mulch is a natural and cost-effective way of maintaining gardens. While buying mulch may be convenient for many gardeners, making homemade mulch using readily available organic materials is also a practical option.

The practical lifespan of mulch depends on the material used and the garden location, and the instant use of homemade mulch makes it convenient to use as needed. By choosing the right type of mulch and using it appropriately, gardeners can enjoy healthier and more beautiful gardens.

Conclusion:

Mulch is an essential component in garden maintenance, providing several benefits for plants and soil. By using the right type of mulch, calculating the right amount needed, and employing proper methods, gardeners can maintain a healthy and lush garden.

Whether purchasing pre-made mulch or making homemade mulch, the key is to use mulch wisely to ensure the garden thrives. FAQs:

Q: Can I use wood chips as mulch?

A: Yes, wood chips are a common type of mulch used in gardens. They absorb moisture, keep soil temperatures even, and minimize erosion.

Q: How do I calculate the amount of mulch needed for my garden? A: Measure the length and width of the garden area, multiply the two values, divide by 108 (the number of square feet in a yard), then multiply this number by 13.5 (the number of bags needed to make one cubic yard).

Q: How long does mulch last? A: Mulch typically lasts between one to two years, although some mulches can have a lifespan of up to seven years.

Q: Can I use grass clippings as mulch? A: Yes, grass clippings are a great natural mulch that helps control weed growth while retaining moisture.

However, it is important to use dry grass to avoid odor or mold problems. Q: What is the difference between bulk and bagged mulch?

A: Bulk mulch is cheaper per cubic yard and ideal for large gardens compared to bagged mulch. Bagged mulch is available in small, manageable packages, making it ideal for small gardens.

Q: Can I make my own mulch? A: Yes, making your own mulch is a practical option for gardeners.

Organic materials such as dead branches, bark, leaves, grass clippings, pine needles, and shredded paper can be used to make natural and cost-effective homemade mulch.

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