The Q&A Archives: Mulch

Question: What type of mulch is best for my perennial garden to keep the weeds down and not harm the plants?

Answer: Nearly any type of organic mulch can be used in a perennial garden and will help keep down weeds, moderate soil temperature and help hold in moisture. It will also help feed the soil as it breaks down. For esthetic reasons, many people prefer to use a finer grade or texture mulch; my personal preferences include double shredded hardwood bark or partially finished compost or leaf mold. Grass clippings can be used in a thin layer but may mat and repel moisture if used thickly. Peat moss is also not recommended as it will repel water if allowed to dry out. Very fine mulches may also blow away. Most people just use what is locally available and at an acceptable price. Woodier mulches such as shavings as opposed to bark will tend to tie up nitrogen in the soil temporarily so if you use one of those you may need to supplement the nitrogen somewhat at first, or else allow the wood mulch to age for at least a year before you use it. With a little trial and error you will find what works best for you.

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