In my last blog post I told you about how I helped my friend keep his garden weed free by using old carpet as a weed-suppressing mulch. This is only a temporary and drastic measure, in general carpets are only for indoor use! Come spring and I will help my friend to choose a stylish decorative mulch for his alpine rockery which as well as looking good will also suppress weed growth.
Let’s now take a closer look at the different kinds of mulch and how they are used in the garden.
Decorative Inorganic Mulch
Decorative mulches include various kinds of stone and wood chippings. These perform basic mulching jobs of suppressing weeds and protecting plant roots from temperature fluctuations and weather extremes whilst having a pleasing experience on the eye and enhancing your gardens aesthetic appeal.
Organic Fertilising Mulch
The classic fertilising mulch is that you will read about in all gardening literature is “well rotted horse manure”. What this means is horse manure that has been left for a few months until it is all a uniform dark colour and no longer smells, at this point it makes a fabulous nitrogen rich mulch which will help retain moisture in your soil and fertilise your plants giving you bigger crops and larger flowers. If you apply horse manure before it has rotted enough as well as the strong odour, the nitrogen content will be too high and will scorch your plants. It is important to note that manure generally only contains about 8% of the NPK carried by specialist garden fertilisers, so you will still need to use a propriety fertiliser on your crops.
Organic Non-Fertilising Mulch
Wood chippings as mentioned above in decorative mulches fall into this category but so does straw. Straw is often used as a mulch around strawberry plants and it is also used to as a mulch around buxus bushes to keep moisture away from the stems and leaves as a preventative to box blight.
If this article has inspired you to try using horse manure then now is the ideal time to get hold of some – it will give you plenty of time to mature it for application in February when the soil is starting to warm up so you will want to stop any weed seeds from germinating. Pile the horse manure up and cover it with some sheeting until you use it next spring.