Serving the Naperville Community
Applying mulch to your Wheaton, IL, landscaping can reap a world of benefits for your plantings. Mulched gardens are more efficient in their use of water, they retain nutrients better, and they are less susceptible to weeds and disease. However, navigating around the types of mulch available can be confusing, so knowing the benefits of different types of mulch is essential to maximize the gains for your landscaping.
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Wood Chips or Shredded Leaves
Shredded bark, leaves, and wood chips are great mulch options that not only provides all the benefits from mulching but also look great aesthetically. A contractor can source the leaves from your garden, as well as clippings around the yard. Shredded wood and bark from your yard can be used to create a top layer that gives your bed a rustic, natural look. This form of mulch can typically last between one and three years.
Grass clippings are some of the easiest ways to mulch your lawn and garden. For your lawn, you can just leave the clippings after mowing, as they are the perfect size to act as mulch. Bagged clippings tend to be better suited for flower beds, gardens, and shrubs. Grass also decomposes quickly and is considered a faster source of nutrients than most other forms of mulch.
Compost is not only a great source of nutrients but also a great mulch for your yard. Waste from your yard can be used to create a compost pile, or you can get compost sourced from animal and plant waste easily from your landscaping contractor. The ideal type of compost for mulching depends on the type of plants, their nutrient requirements, and their current condition, so it’s best to consult a landscaper. Compost typically doesn’t inhibit weed growth, so it might be prudent to combine it with another type of mulch to help avoid weeds.
Straw or Hay
Straw or hay is not only a great mulch for your vegetable gardens but is also great to look at. It typically breaks down slower than grass and provides nutrients well into the winter after application. However, it is important to source straw from a reliable contractor, as some straw can contain seeds, which may promote the growth of weeds in your yard.
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Gravel or River Stones
Gravel and river stones are the first of two non-organic mulches we discuss in this guide. Gravel and river stones provide a much neater look for your garden while offering some unconventional benefits you don’t see from other types of mulch. Stones tend to retain heat better and help keep the soil warm during the night, especially if you use darker colored stones as mulch. Moreover, these forms of mulch don’t need to be reapplied although they do require raking and readjustment. They should typically be applied on top of an organic mulch layer to keep your plants well stocked with nutrients.
Plastic covers are one of the more popular forms of inorganic mulch. Large sheets of black plastic help keep the soil warm by retaining heat from the sun. The covering also helps reduce evaporation, creating a microclimate beneath the soil that is prime for plant growth. Plastic is generally ideal for garden and flower beds but should be avoided for shrubs as it can inhibit their growth in the long-term.