Do’s and don’ts of utilizing mulch, compost in gardens


A rose by some other identify should be a rose, however mulches want defining.

There are 17 totally different supplies thought of on the University of California’s Statewide Integrated Pest Management website, and a few are marginal at greatest. Becoming a connoisseur of mulch is a good suggestion if you’re on the lookout for long-term advantages in your backyard.

As the UC-IPM web sites above states: “A mulch is any material placed on the soil to cover and protect it. Many types of landscape mulches are available. The most common are bark and other wood products and black plastic or landscape fabric materials. Other products include paper (e.g., in rolls, or sheet mulch), yard compost, hulls from nuts (almonds) or cereals (rice), municipal composts, and stones.”

With present natural waste legal guidelines, particularly AB1383, communities will quickly be required to haul again their composted backyard cart waste. Gardeners can make the most of this new “waste stream,” and mulch their gardens to reap the advantages.

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Be cautious – mulch varies in advantages and downsides:

Chipped, floor or shredded bark

Attractive, usually known as “walk on bark” at panorama provide yards, comparatively costly, however slowly improves soil because it degrades, medium textured mulch is heavy and never topic to blowing or “floating off” with irrigation or heavy rains. Light weight mulch is topic to weed germination. Can be positioned over plastic or panorama cloth. Minimum 3-4 inches is greatest.

Chipped, floor or shredded wooden

“Medium to coarse textured products are long-lasting and resistant to wind movement. Sometimes inexpensive or free. May not stay in place on slopes.” Definitely keep away from any dyed or handled woods as they might have dyes or preservatives which can be dangerous to native waterways.

Black plastic (strong polyethylene)

“Very effective, widely available, relatively inexpensive but has many drawbacks: Restricts air and water movement. Drip irrigation under the plastic usually must be used since overhead irrigation cannot penetrate it. Breaks down in a few months and is unattractive unless a top mulch is applied. Tends to tear and break readily, allowing weeds to grow through holes. Not the best choice for long-term weed control.”

Clear plastic

Not beneficial as a result of it’s going to encourage weed development.

Geotextiles, or panorama materials (spun or woven polypropylene and polyester)

“Very effective, relatively long-lasting if covered with bark or other suitable mulch. Allow air and water penetration. Expensive, may be unattractive without a top mulch. Brands differ in effectiveness and resistance to ultraviolet (UV) light.”

Grass clippings and leaves

Readily accessible, however must be composted for greatest outcomes. May mat and trigger issues with water penetration over time.

Gravel and crushed stone

Not beneficial due to the issues which come up because the stone or gravel mixes with soil and turns into troublesome to separate. Use panorama cloth beneath it if you happen to do determine to make use of, since gravel combined with soil will favor weed development.


“Uncomposted yard and tree trimmings. A variable mixture including bark, grass, ground wood, and leaves. Relatively inexpensive. May contain weed or pathogen propagules if not well composted. Can increase problems from small vertebrate pests (e.g., voles).”

Paper, or sheet mulch

Easy software. Can be bought, sometimes in rolls. May be helpful to lower weed stress till newly planted groundcover fills in open areas. Tends to interrupt or tear after transplanting or if walked on. Hinders air and water motion, so rain and overhead irrigation are likely to run off, which might favor weed development on the paper’s edge. May create a hydrophobic (water-repellant) barrier.”

So, why use mulch, particularly in summer season months?

Benefits of mulch

  • Weed management: By limiting mild to any weed seeds within the soil, layer of mulch will assist forestall their germination.
  • Conserves soil moisture: “In addition to good weed control, mulch conserves soil moisture by reducing evaporation and reducing water use by weeds. Mulch moderates the soil wetting and drying cycle between irrigations and moderates soil temperatures around roots, improving plant growth. Mulch also reduces compaction and erosion from irrigation, rainfall, and foot traffic.”
  • Mulch moderates soil temperatures:  “Mulch moderates the soil wetting and drying cycle between irrigations and moderates soil temperatures around roots, improving plant growth. Mulch also reduces compaction and erosion from irrigation, rainfall, and foot traffic.”

Do you could have a gardening-related query? Contact the San Joaquin UC Master Gardeners at 209-953-6112. More info can be discovered on our web site

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