Mulch: The Unsung Hero of Your Garden

Mulched planting beds flanking stone walkwayMulch is a commonly used landscaping material that can enhance the beauty of your yard. But did you know that the benefits of mulch extend beyond just surface appearances? Keep reading to learn what mulch is, how it can help your landscaping, and the best types of mulch for North Georgia.  

Benefits of Mulch

Mulch reduces the growth of weeds.

Weeding is usually at the top of people’s lists for “Most Annoying Outdoor Chore,” but you can substantially slow down the growth of weeds by mulching your garden. Applying a layer of mulch (usually 3-4” deep) on top of exposed soil effectively smothers weed seeds, preventing them from getting enough light and air to germinate. Even if seeds do blow into your garden, the layer of mulch provides a barrier between the weed and the soil. Any weeds that manage to spring up should be easy to remove because their roots will extend very shallowly into the soil. 

Mulch conserves water.

Water is one of our most precious resources here in North Georgia, so we love helping our customers create smart landscapes that use water efficiently. Mulch is part of a water-smart landscape because it traps moisture in the soil, slowing evaporation. That means more water for your plants to drink, less waste, and a lower water bill. It also blocks the wind from drying out the soil faster. 

Mulch is cool.

We mean that literally! Mulch provides insulation for the soil, which is especially important during our hot Georgia summers. Reducing heat stress on your plants goes a long way towards keeping your summer landscaping looking great. 

What Type of Mulch Should You Use?

There are many materials that can be used as mulch, and each one has its own benefits and drawbacks. The best mulch to use depends on the climate and environment where you live, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. 

Here in North Georgia, pine straw and pine bark are the most commonly used types of mulch. They are great options because they’re typically affordable, and they make your landscaping look very natural in the midst of Georgia’s pine forests. 

Composted wood chips are also popular and can be found in various colors to coordinate with your home. (Don’t use fresh woodchips, which will leach nitrogen from the soil and can harm your plants.)

There are also a few types of mulch that are not recommended for most applications in our area:

  • Gravel/pebbles/rocks get too hot. Your plants are probably already working hard to survive the summer, so adding rocks that absorb the sun and retain heat is not a good idea.
  • Peat moss is not appropriate mulch either. While it is very absorbent, once it dries it repels water, which can kill your plants. It’s also antimicrobial, which is not desirable if you’re trying to garden organically. 
  • As we mentioned, fresh woodchips aren’t good for your garden. Instead, allow them to weather for 6 months to a year before using them.

If you’re buying mulch for your home or need help planning and installing your landscaping, give us a call at 770-893-1254