After spending time clearing your garden, select areas where you will plant your crops. You are happy that everything is gradually falling into place then these garden bullies sprout out.
After checking the time and energy you may use to uproot them and most likely they reappear quicker than you imagined. Then you consider maybe using herbicides that will inhibit the weeds, still, you consider it might be harmful to the environment.
What do you do at such a cross-road? Look for the best mulch for weed control.
Mulching simply means the act of covering the soil with a protective layer. There are various reasons why mulch is used. Choosing the best mulch for weed control leads to a more productive garden. Although most types of mulch will keep pests and weeds at bay, some are more suited to control weeds.
Read on to know the best mulch for weed control in your garden as well as the types and benefits of using mulch.
Different Types of Mulch
1. Organic Mulch
Anything organic has to do with nature. So when we say organic mulches, it means that they are gotten from natural sources.
Organic mulches are commonly used because they can decompose and add nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil thereby increasing the fertility of the soil.
Examples of organic mulch are wood chips, bark mulch, pine needles, banana or cocoa-nut leaves, compost materials, and other products that are gotten from plants.
A. Grass chipping
This is an organic mulch that is gotten from fresh grass clippings. It is best for controlling weeds and it does not contain weed seeds.
The advantage of using this mulch is that you do not have to spend much as you will be able to collect the grass yourself and use it as mulch. This mulch needs to be managed well because of its fast decomposition if left unattended.
Hay can be a good mulch when you are looking for weed control material. It is safe for the roots of your plants and it helps improve the soil quality and adds nitrogen to the soil.
It provides the soil with needed water and it has a good heat retention ability. The problem with hay as a mulch is that it does not decompose for long.
C. Garden Compost
This is another type of mulch that is good for weed control. It is best for the garden as it gives nutrients back to the soil.
Compost is a very helpful mulch material that can help improve the fertility and health of your garden. It also helps retain water in the soil.
The problem with compost is that it doesn’t prevent weed growth as much as the other organic mulches. The reason is that they may contain weed seed already so extreme care is needed when using the compost mulch.
D. Bark Mulch
The bark mulch is made from tree bark that’s shredded into fine, medium, or large sizes. They are gotten from furniture manufacturers or sawmills.
Since they are gotten from a natural source, they are biodegradable. One good thing about bark mulch is that it can last longer than any other organic bark.
This durability has made it a good choice for most gardeners. In addition, it possesses all the other functions of being organic like adding nutrients to the soil, etc.
It equally creates a favorable atmosphere for microorganisms and earthworms to thrive, this increases soil compaction.
2. Inorganic Mulch
This simply means those mulches that are not gotten from plants. They do not break down as they are used over time.
They cannot decompose easily and thereby not be able to improve soil fertility. They require low maintenance as they do not need to be replenished just like the organic mulch.
When it comes to removal, it’s difficult to remove inorganic mulch just in case you decide to change your mind on the usage. Examples are stone, lava rock, pulverized rubber, geotextile fabrics, crushed gravel, crushed sea shell, etc.
A. Plastic Mulch
This is another type of mulch that helps control weeds. Plastic mulch prevents water and oxygen which is very crucial to the growth of plants. It doesn’t need constant care, and usually does not require any maintenance.
If you decide to use plastic mulch, make sure to water the soil before planting then periodically check the plant to make sure there’s still moisture, and water it when necessary.
The use of plastic mulch is discouraged because it can harm your plants and is not friendly to the environment. Immediately after installation, plastic mulches that have an odor that may persist for some time.
B. Landscape Fabric
The geotextile fabric when used as a mulch, will prevent water and oxygen that is very crucial to the growth of plants, making it a good choice for growing hydrophytic, flowering, and fruits.
It improves drainage, needs no constant care, and usually does not require any maintenance. At the same time, it can cause harm to your plants.
However, when it comes to weed control, it’s not entirely the best. This is because apart from being inorganic, some stubborn grasses can still shoot out from underneath.
Using mulch comes with a lot of benefits. Let’s quickly look at some of these benefits below.
Benefits of Mulching
i. Suppresses Weed
Weeds are just annoying. It can best be described as the farmer’s enemy. Apart from the fact that it needs extra effort to uproot, they take the nutrients that are meant for your plants.
It’s not the desire of any farmer to have these weeds and what better way to remove weeds than through mulching?
Mulching is one of the most effective ways to get rid of weeds. It prevents seeds from germinating and stops unwanted plants from growing. This is because mulch-like leaves and branches do not decompose easily.
ii. Increases Fertility
When we mulch our plants, especially with organic mulch, these decompose and provide nutrients to the plants. It also prevents the leaching of important nutrients from the soil as a result reduces the need for fertilizers.
iii. Retains Moisture
When the soil retains a consistent level of moisture, it improves plant growth. Mulching helps retain moisture in the soil by preventing evaporation. When there is more moisture in the soil, plant roots are able to grow and absorb nutrients.
Therefore, it helps to prevent the loss of water from the soil, especially if you use a layer of straw or hay on top. It helps to keep the plant alive and promotes healthy fruits.
iv. Moderates Temperature
Mulch helps moderate soil temperature by keeping the soil cooler in warmer weather. However, if mulches are left too long or if they are too thick, they may restrict airflow and decrease available moisture.
When you look at the landscape of a mulched garden, it always appears neat and beautiful. It improves the appearance of the surroundings. Mulching a garden bed adds color, texture, and design to a flower or vegetable garden and provides a clean, tidy appearance to the space.
vi. Protects Against Frost
Placing mulch around plants in the garden during winter is an effective way to protect plants that are susceptible to frost damage during the winter months.
vii. Saves Water
Plants can absorb the minerals in garden soil and plants that require fertilizer can use these nutrients for growth. However, mulches prevent these elements from leaching out of the soil. What this means is that more nutrients are available to plants when they are not being lost through leaching.
viii. Keeps Pests at Bay
Mulch also prevents pests such as slugs, snails, and moles from burrowing into the soil where they could damage your plants or cause them to lose their roots.
Developing a weed control program will aid in the overall quality of your garden. Both the organic and inorganic mulches discourage weeds but organic mulch in addition to decomposing improves the soil.
However, bark mulch is considered the best as it lasts longer than any other organic mulch and equally improves the quality of the soil. I would recommend you choose bark mulch in your gardens because of all the benefits that are inherent therein.