In modern landscaping, mulch is a protective layer of organic material that is placed over or around plants. Mulch can be employed for many reasons, but the most common benefits it provides include the prevention of moisture loss, suppression of weed growth, and protection against exposure. There are also several different varieties of mulch commercially available, based on the specific local climate in which is to be used as well as the aesthetic tastes of the homeowners planning the landscape design. Common materials used for mulch include wood chips, straw, hay, or composted grass clippings. If local weed growth is particularly aggressive, homeowners can opt for plastic sheeting with small holes cut at strategic locations. The plastic is then covered with more organic material to create an effective barrier against weed growth.
When mulching, homeowners must pay close attention to local rainfall and drainage issues. Thick layers of mulch can actually reduce water absorption by the soil, as moderate rainfall will not penetrate the mulch. Homeowners are advised to carefully research the optimal amount of mulch for each specific plant variety on their property as well as the proper time for its application. Generally, mulch is applied near the beginning of a growing season in order to help retain heat in the soil overnight. Mulch can also be applied in the fall before the first freeze to help with moisture retention and to provide insulation. Blustery winter winds frequently expose the crowns of plants’ roots and drying the entire plant. Mulch helps to prevent this from occurring, though for more delicate plants the application of an anti-desiccant or a protective burlap wrap may be necessary.
Mulch is also often used in the practice of edging, which involves the management of transition spaces between hardscapes (driveways, paths, and patios) with plant-based softscapes. Edging refers to the act of trimming the plant growth along the hardscape in order to create a clean edge. This helps create a perception of orderliness and regimentation. Powered edging apparatuses are available from several commercial manufacturers, but homeowners need only concern themselves with these if the area to be edged is particularly large. Most edging projects (such as those along a short driveway or flowerbed) can be managed with a garden hoe or spade. DIY landscapers simply thrust the spade down along the boundary between the two areas, cutting the plant material in a relatively straight line as well as creating a slight gap between the two contrasting areas. Homeowners can also create small trenches to serve as the edge, which can then be filled with ornamental organic material or simply left to serve as a barrier.
Tags: mulch, edge, edging, landscape, homeowner, rainfall