As the weather warms up our focus turns to conserving as much moisture in the soil as possible. Mulches are divided into three main categories and depending on where they are being applied.
Thick chunky mulches for garden beds are the best for waterwise gardens because they allow the water to pass through the particles to the soil level where plants can make use of it. Fine mulches tend to absorb water and plants roots will come to the surface searching for this water – defeating the purpose for applying mulch in the first place.
Thousands of tonnes of mulch are spread on gardens every year to not only look good but to conserve water in our gardens. One alternative is the use of living mulch. Living mulch is the planting of ground covers under existing shrubs to protect the soil from the harsh sun. This will also protect the plants roots from the heat. The use of grevilleas, myroporum, scaevola, convolvulus are only a few of many varieties available to select in the garden centres. Get them planted now and they will be covered before you know it.
A mulch that breaks down quickly and feeds the soil through this composting process is referred to as a composting mulch. Lupin mulch and pea hay are the best for vegie gardens, fruit trees, roses and herb gardens. Feeding the soil is the secret to successful, productive gardens.
Top Tips when purchasing mulches
- Is it a locally produced product?
- Is it coarse and chunky so the water can soak through to the soil surface?
- Has it been composted sufficiently (if a recycled product) to kill any weed seeds and plant pathogens?
- Has it been produced to Australian Standards to ensure consistent quality? This is your guarantee you are purchasing a premium product.
- Purchase the correct product for the job needed.