As you all know, mulching is the process of putting a layer of natural or inorganic substance for various reasons like keeping the soil moist, shielding the roots from heating, cooling, or drying up. Some other reasons include keeping the fruits or vegetables healthy and neat.
These things are accomplished using mulch. But what if there’s a mulch alternative? What if you don’t want to use mulch and look for other things with, more or less, the same benefits? No worries! We got you covered.
In this article, we will look at the necessity of mulching, its pros and cons, and its alternatives. Keep reading on to find what you are looking for.
Is Mulching Really Necessary?
Mulch affects the soil in several positive ways. You can ask any gardener, he will tell you that YES! It is necessary to mulch. But that is not entirely as it sounds, because the mulch is not the necessary one, but the benefits it gives off. The whole point of using mulch is to prevent the heat from reaching the plant roots.
Furthermore, to keep the soil’s moisture intact, stand between the plants and grass and prevent them from fighting for the essential minerals. Because the grass can be aggressive at times when it comes to sharing nutrients. That is what the mulch does.
It controls the growth of cannabis (weeds), benefits the soil by enriching them with nutrients when it decays, only if the mulch is natural. Worms get attracted to mulched soil and benefit it in several ways. And last but not least, mulch adds up the beauty of your garden.
The Pros and Cons Of Mulching:
Everything in the world has advantages and disadvantages, as does the mulch. Let’s have a look.
The advantages of mulching include:
- It keeps the roots safe from the heat.
- The weeds are subdued by mulch.
- It keeps the soil moist and cool and protects the plant roots from heat burned.
- Once applied, the mulch decreases the soil attrition.
- After decaying, natural mulches get mixed with the soil and provide essential minerals.
- The mulch inspires the worms to get attracted to the soil, and it has its benefits.
- It costs less and prevents the water from evaporating, making the soil moist.
Now we have the cons of mulching.
- The layer of mulch is meant to stop the light from reaching the soil core. This means that after mulching, many seeds cannot grow. However, that is how the cannabis plants are prevented, but this can also affect your self-planted seeds.
- The mulch also attracts harmful pests due to their preference for darker and cold places.
- In the case of rainfall, the excess of water gets absorbed by the mulch, and due to its ability to preserve water, it delays the drying period. Because of that, the plants can rot.
Alternatives to Mulch:
However, the mulch is better to be applied in your garden; there are alternatives that you might wanna consider if you don’t wanna go for it.
1. Pebbles or Rocks:
The pebbles and rocks are ideal for keeping the soil from erosion due to rain or excess sunlight. Pebbles and rocks extend the life of your plants and keep them safe from harsh states. If appropriately chosen, they also add beauty to your garden, and you can also walk over these pebbles.
2. Rubber Mulch:
Unlike the natural mulch, the rubber one is somewhat more beneficial in some ways and not so good in some. It doesn’t hold on to essential minerals and let them in the plants, something natural mulches don’t allow. Because it is rubber, it doesn’t inspire the worms to come towards the plants, hence, protecting them. They also stop weed growth.
Research tells apart the difference between mulch and compost. The compost is enriched with necessary minerals, and it benefits the soil and provides fuel to the roots as well. It also helps the good bacteria to grow, and if used appropriately, the compost generates heat that the harmful bacteria can’t stand, and hence, they die. Moreover, it stops weed growth.
The leaves are filled with the required nutrients that they get from their trees. When used or laid correctly on the soil, the worms and other microorganisms feed on them, and that’s a plus point. They reduce the density of the soil and make it light. Their beautiful green color looks fantastic in the garden.
Yeah, you read that right. Newspapers! You can use them instead of mulch. They have their benefits, as putting them on soil prevents the weed plants from growing, enriches the soil with nutrients, cool down or heat up the plant roots in hot and cold weather, respectively. Newspapers preserve water and moisturize the soil.
6. Landscaping Fabric:
Among the most affordable and effective ways of preventing weed growth comes landscape fabric. It lets the water through itself to reach the plant roots in the soil. Using landscape fabric will kill off the need for any weedicide. Prevents the soil from erosion and keeps the soil moist.
7. Wood Chips:
Wood chips decrease the pH of the soil, making it slightly acidic and ideal. But be careful because not all plants like acidity and may cause harm. They also add minerals to the soil by decomposing. These wood chips are natural and get mixed with the soil. Wood chips add up the garden’s beauty.
8. Hay or Straw:
Straw or hay has some unbelievable effects on soil. Like other alternatives listed here, they also decay to benefit the soil. It will become humus: a substance used to help plants grow rapidly. The ideal condition for them is warmer and moisturized. Similar to others, hay or straw preserves water and reduces weed growth.
9. Glass or Marbles:
However, it is not a recommended option but still doable. Using glass for mulching purposes is sometimes good because it adds beauty to the garden. This type of mulch is ideal for those plants that prefer sandy soil. You can use it in your walkways also. Your choice!
Using Ground Cover Instead of Mulch:
You can go for ground covers for protecting your soil, as they require very little maintenance, help freshen the air, reduce weed growth, maintain the temperature, and decrease erosion. Moreover, using the ground cover gives your yard an excellent and eye-catchy look.
You must also know that any kind of ground cover providing shelter will bring small animals like mice or rats towards them. Ground covers, just like mulch, stop the weed growth. More or less, the ground cover makes it to the benefits from the mulch.
Mulch is a good and recommended way of battering the garden soil. But still, some people prefer other options, so we have listed the alternatives. All of the methods mentioned above are, more or less, give off the same benefit as using the mulch would.
But you must also remember that everything has its advantages and disadvantages, so do good research before using any method in your garden to get the best results. Or else, the best methods would also go in vain, and you would be left with eroded soil and rotted plants. Thank you.