The Q&A Archives: What Kind Of Mulch?

Question: I am now planting shrubs in the front and back yard, and have used Cocoa Hulls for mulch. They are expersive however, and I just did an area 2x 20 and it cost about 65.00. What kind of mulch would look good , function well and not break the bank? I have a great deal left to do. Thank You...Dave Gale

Answer: I love the aroma of Cocoa hulls and the nice, neat look they give the garden beds, however they can be quite expensive! There are several mulch material alternatives; some last longer than others, so consider that as you price them out: 1)Bark; Commercially-packaged bark mulches are available shredded or as chips, nuggets, or chunks. They are often available in bulk quantities from nurseries and landscape companies. Bark mulches are attractive, weed free, and decompose slowly. (Cedar and cypress are slowest to decompose.) Use bark mulches around trees, shrubs, and roses, and in perennial beds. 2)Wood chips; Wood chips are an excellent mulching material that may be available free from local tree trimmers, or municipal or private yard waste sites. The material is obtained by passing tree and shrub trimmings through a mechanical chipper. Wood chips are best used in landscape plantings, such as around trees, shrubs, and roses, and in perennial beds. 3)Newspapers; Shredded newspapers or whole sheets may be used. Most newspapers use organic inks so gardeners need not worry about lead contamination. When using newspaper sheets, place a layer of 6 to 8 sheets between plant rows in the garden. Water the sheets so they stick to one another and to the soil surface, then weigh them down with a thin layer of bark nuggets to prevent them from blowing away in the wind. 4)Pine needles; Pine needles are light, airy, decompose slowly and make an attractive mulch. They may last several years and may be easily removed if necessary. Pine needles are acid in reaction and are excellent mulches for acid-loving plants. However, they also can be safely used in the vegetable garden and elsewhere in the home landscape. 5)Sawdust; Sawdust is easy to apply, weed free, and decomposes slowly. Generally, sawdust should be allowed to age or weather for a year before being applied. If fresh sawdust is used, apply only a 1-inch layer and make sure the sawdust doesn?t cake. As a safety precaution, do not use sawdust from treated lumber in the yard and garden.

Hope these cocoa hull substitutes do the job for you!

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