What Does Mulch Mean? Eight Ways to Use Them in Your Garden

Mulch is used to avoid frost heave in the winter, suppress or block weeds, keep the soil and plant roots cool, and improve the appearance of the garden bed and surrounding area. Continue reading to discover the many kinds of mulches and useful information on which kinds are ideal for the requirements of your garden.

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Mulch Types

While certain mulches are more useful and may enrich the soil with nutrients, others are more visually beautiful. Mulch falls into two categories: organic and inorganic. Each has pros and cons of its own.

Organic mulch: This mulch is created naturally; it contains no synthetic materials. It works well for supplying your garden with healthy nutrients and can somewhat inhibit weed growth, albeit not completely.

Inorganic mulch: This type of mulch is artificial and not derived from natural resources. It doesn’t improve the soil in any way, but it works best at completely keeping out weeds, holding onto water, and lasting longer than organic.

Natural Mulch

Bark, shredded or chipped

Pine needles

Grass clippings


Shredded leaves


Mulch that is organic will break down and need to be renewed. However, when organic mulches break down, they also contribute to the soil’s increased organic content, drainage, structure, and ability to hold nutrients. Mulch that is drier and more woody will break down more slowly and release fewer nutrients into the soil.

Mulch’s provenance is important to know since it may contain pesticides or live weed seeds. Spreading mulch that will begin to sprout and increase your workload, or that may infect your plants with chemicals, is the last thing you want to do. Every kind of organic mulch has a specific purpose. For vegetable gardens, organic mulches work best overall.


Bark mulch works well in garden beds where you won’t be doing a lot of digging and around trees and plants. Additionally, front pathways and foundation plants are excellent uses for bark. Moving these woody mulches aside to create room for new plants may get tedious because they don’t blend in well with the soil. However, compared to finer organic mulches, they will survive longer.

Pine Needles

It is possible that you have heard that pine straw, which is made from pine needles that have fallen, lowers the pH of the soil. Pine needles as mulch may acidify the soil a little bit, but not enough to harm plants. The only thing to be aware of is that adding fresh green pine needles to the soil as mulch might slightly increase its acidity, albeit not much. Pine needles might be a wonderful option if you’re searching for a mulch that won’t compress while still keeping moisture in the soil and suppressing weeds.

Grass Clippings

Because they are a mixed bag, grass clippings work best in secluded parts of your garden where you want to keep weeds at bay. Grass clippings disintegrate quickly, much like other green plant detritus with a high water content. However, during this process, they can get rather slippery and smell bad, so handle them carefully. Additionally, grass clippings have a tendency to settle down and obstruct the flow of water.

To improve the soil’s fertility, you should ideally use a mulching mower and leave the clippings on the grass. If you bag your grass clippings, keep them in the bag until you’ve treated your lawn with weed killer or another herbicide or insecticide. You definitely don’t want to use synthetic lawn care chemicals in your vegetable garden, since they might harm some flowers.2 You may either use untreated grass clippings to cover open, unplanted areas or throw them in your compost bin.


Using newspaper as a mulch is growing in popularity. The majority of newspapers now use black ink made from soy and hydrogen peroxide to bleach pulp, however colorful or glossy inks are not recommended for use as mulch.34

For years, people have used shredded newspaper to keep plant roots moist during transportation. Newspaper layers provide excellent moisture retention qualities as well as similar properties to other organic mulches in terms of weed suppression and soil temperature regulation. They work well for starting a new garden bed by covering the current grass.

Spread four to eight sheets of newspaper around the plants to use as mulch in the garden. To ensure the sheets stay in place, moisten them. It’s simpler to wet the sheets before putting them down on windy days. During the growth season, cover the newspaper with a layer of 1 to 3 inches of additional organic mulch to maintain weed protection.

Shredded Leaves

Nature’s preferred mulch is made of shreds of leaves. They are a free alternative to mulch that may be utilized anywhere. Moreover, adding leaves to your garden soil can attract additional earthworms. For some gardeners, leaves are an eyesore in their garden, and they certainly don’t belong in a formal setting. The leaf mulch will eventually become indistinguishable from the surrounding landscape if it is applied in the spring before the plants grow out. For forest gardens, shredded leaves work great. You can also use them to cover your food garden in the fall, and they will break down during the winter.

In wet regions, unshredded leaves can cling to one another and resist water. If that occurs, you may always give them a little rake and fluff if they seem to get matted.

Straw and Hay

For the vegetable garden, common mulches include salt hay and straw. They also make walkways less muddy and prevent dirt and soil-borne illnesses from splashing up on lower plant leaves. Straw lasts throughout the whole growing season and breaks down extremely slowly. Additionally, spiders and other helpful insects find it to be a beautiful place to live, which helps to limit the number of pests. Lastly, when it is time to plant a new crop or close the vegetable garden, it is simple to rake up or work into the soil.

Non-Organic Mulch

Both plastic and landscape cloth

Stone and gravel

Mulches that are synthetic or inorganic are effective in keeping moisture in and preventing weed growth. While they don’t replenish the soil with nutrients, they also don’t break down or need to be replaced as frequently as organic mulches.

Fabric for the landscape and plastic

For the areas surrounding other shrubs and trees and foundation plants, plastic and landscaping fabric are excellent options. You shouldn’t have to bother about weeding these plants all summer long because they don’t need frequent fertilizing and you won’t be working in these beds very often.

In addition to burying weed seeds, plastic’s extreme heat throughout the summer may destroy all of the beneficial elements in the soil, such as plant roots and bacteria, if there is not enough moisture present.5. Make sure there are enough holes in the cloth for water to flow through. You don’t have enough drainage if puddles are forming on top of the cloth or plastic. Because landscape cloth is permeable, obstructions should not cause problems.

But plastic is bad for the ecosystem and the soil because of how it breaks down.Six Similarly, as landscape fabric breaks down over a few years, weeds might get through.

You may always apply a little layer of bark mulch on top of landscape cloth or plastic to disguise it if you like how they work but not how they appear. Weed seeds will be able to germinate on top of the plastic or cloth as the bark breaks down. The bark will eventually decompose, so you’ll also need to replace it. To avoid seams while covering the bed, if you’re installing raised beds, think about making them the same width as your plastic or cloth. But, since plastic can contaminate the soil as it decomposes, organic gardeners would wish to avoid putting it in vegetable beds.

Stone and Gravel

For Mediterranean herb gardens and rain gardens, for example, or any beds containing plants that benefit from a little extra heat, gravel and stone make excellent mulches. Consider carefully before using stone or gravel as a mulch since stone is difficult to remove.

The type of mulch you select will rely on both your desired look and function. Every year, there are more and more options to select from, so consider them carefully before spreading and pick a mulch that will look good on you and benefit your garden for many years.

Two Tricks for Excellent Garden Design

Imagination and a healthy dose of guts are required to color beyond the lines. Both Cassandra Barrett and Bryan have them. Under the moniker Barrett Landscape and Design, this husband-and-wife team creates, installs, and maintains gardens for a living as contractors and garden designers, respectively. For the gardens they design, there are no set formulae. You won’t find symmetrical groups, neat rows, or well-manicured bushes at their Dexter, Oregon, house. Their garden has a flowing, organic appearance. Despite all of its tiers, embellishments, and numerous plants, it lacks any untidy elements. Just like any well-planned casual garden, it looks cohesive without being overly formal. However, how precisely is that achieved? How can the Barretts combine so many plants that at first glance appear unrelated to make something so exquisite? Alternatively put, how do they successfully color beyond the lines? Their strategy is not as complicated as it seems. Here are two tips for creating beautiful garden designs.

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Step 1: Examine each layer of your garden carefully.

The Barretts’ garden is remarkable for a variety of reasons, such as its contrasting textures, meandering gravel walkways, and spectacular color that lasts all year. Less evident, though, is how the landscape slopes down progressively at each level, with the epimedium (Epimedium spp. and cvs., Zones 5–9) cascading onto pathways and the highest Thompson blue spruce (Picea pungens ‘Thompson,’ USDA Hardiness Zones 2–8) leading to the Barretts’ clapboard farmhouse. Every component is integrated. Naturally, this impression is intended. When gardeners are skilled in layering, they create deep beds and seamless transitions; Cassandra has mastered this technique. Every garden has four stages in her opinion, and each tier has a certain function.

Plant low-growing plants in the beds on the ground floor.

Plants that grow to be one foot tall or shorter are best appreciated up close. With their vivid colors and exquisite textures, consider them jewels. They’re ideal for adding finishing touches to pathways, entryways, and borders.

Connect the skyline to the terrain on the upper floor

Every yard should naturally include a few 80-foot-tall trees, but in newly built areas, that is frequently not the case. If there aren’t enough shade trees in your landscaping and you have the room, plant a couple cedars or oaks right away.

Connect the home and landscape on the secondary top storey.

This tier must be higher the taller your home is. Generally speaking, for single-story homes, choose trees and shrubs that will develop to be 8 to 15 feet tall, and for two-story homes, 25 to 30 feet tall.

Cassandra suggests creating a new garden by first purchasing trees and bushes. Make a frame out of them to encircle your yard. Plant them in clusters to provide seclusion along your property line and to soften the angles of your lot’s corners. These plants are easy to use to create focal points in the garden and provide beds year-round structure.

Midstory: Unite the home with the landscape

Perennials and shrubs that reach eye level make up this layer and comprise most plants in a garden.

Additionally, you want to put a few distinctive plants in the midstory. Just a few will do to make your landscape seem amazing. Look for ones that allow you to grow shorter perennials below by requiring less space around their base.

Step 2: Integrate the patterns with the layers in the background

The kind of rich, tiered beds that give the Barretts’ landscape its pleasant appearance are produced by completely completing each storey of the garden. Of course, there is a method to packing each layer full of plants. Arranging plants in an aesthetically attractive manner is just as important as choosing complementary colors, shapes, and textures. At that point, pattern-making becomes useful.

Selecting a plant: Choose three hues and a texture

One word describes the key to connecting all four stories: repetition. The Barretts chose burgundy, blue, and chartreuse as their primary color scheme and spiky conifers as its recurring texture in the early stages of garden design. The Barretts repeat these about every 20 feet, just enough to make them noticeable. Cassandra says, “That’s all the eye can really take in at one time.” Cassandra may then add just about any other plant that she wants, as long as the conifers and the hues of burgundy, blue, and chartreuse are constantly visible. Even with the addition of fresh plants, the ever-present color scheme and texture keep the composition looking unified.

When placing plants, consider “triangles.”

The many components of the garden are further interlocked when plants are spaced out rather than planted in rows. Cassandra thinks in threes, or what she refers to as “triangulation.” Cassandra makes triangle patterns everywhere, from zigzagging irises (below) down a walkway to placing a pair of burgundy-leaved shrubs at the base of a red strapleaf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Atro­lineare,’ Zones 5–8). She purchases multiples of each hue, form, and texture, distributing them across the lowest three storeys of the garden. Working loosely inside triangles preserves the landscape’s general casual appearance, subtle patterning, and entwined layers.

Getting soiled

The Barretts’ garden takes very little upkeep, despite popular belief. Every task is completed by Bryan and Cassandra alone. But since they run small businesses, they frequently lack time. These are some of the techniques they employ to maintain their 2.5 acres immaculate.

How about some pruning? Don’t bother trimming the garden in the fall. The Barretts wait to clean up their perennials until after the final frost of the winter. Additionally, they only trim a particular plant once a year. They form late-winter bloomers in early fall, multistemmed blooming shrubs and weeping trees in late spring, and deciduous trees in winter.

Applying fertilizer? Fertilizing every plant is a time and money-consuming process. Cassandra uses wood ash in the spring to enhance the color of her peonies, and she also uses organic, slow-releasing fertilizer around fruit trees, vegetables, and a few heavy-blooming perennials. That is all.

Dousing? The Barretts purchase the appropriate tools, which helps them save time and water even if they don’t have an underground watering system. They utilize an oscillating sprinkler and a Gardena timer for overhead watering. Cassandra uses an American-made brass nozzle, a Gilmour 8-ply garden hose, and a brass fast connection with male and female connectors for hand watering.

weeds? Weed constantly—even in the winter. Cassandra utilizes a preemergent herbicide, such Preen Vegetable Garden Organic Weed Preventer, for the odd trouble spot.

There Are 20 Garden Shed Concepts You Have To Use In Your Backyard

Clever backyard shed ideas don’t need to be limited to the shed. A construction with a roof of Succulent could be a part of the garden. Mushroom gray siding permits the lime green sliding barn doorways to shine.

Garden Shed

It is a enjoyable place to see the sod roof. They probably added extra rolls of sod the day before. I don’t wish to change the dual doors. The outbuilding was transformed right into a shed.

This backyard shed is in a cottage garden. The architectural particulars, such as the clapboard siding, window boxes, lace curtains, and weather vane make it the right focal point for the garden. The grey blue exterior and Terra cotta colored roof shingles are just right. midcentury modern type is mirrored in the shed’s design.

The Renovated Storage Has Timber Framed “orangery”

The tone for a practical, lighthearted strategy to gardening is ready by a profusion of flowers, sculptures and found objects. This construction has a large storage shed and a sun drenched shed annex. There is a pop of colour within the shed with the red window frames and trim.

If you are inspired by your landscaping concepts, you can make a small shed that acts as a retreat right in your yard. Whether it’s a coated area to host events or a she shed, there are concepts in right here that may suit your wants. The sheds are double as artist studios, craft houses, or even a guest suite. You can connect a few of these builds to your yard rooster coop for a bigger area. While many backyard sheds appear to be miniature houses, this one forges a unique path. The greenhouse’s construction is made from salvaged materials.

It can provide some shelter from the weather and wind, but still allow you to get pleasure from a campfire.

73 Sq Ft

The buildings had been painted to match a easy colour scheme. The simple yet attractive shed is a plant lover’s hideaway. Designed by Bruce Hegna, it is raised above the bottom to maintain it dry and positioned close to garden beds so tools are simple to achieve. The beauty of gardening is that you could push the boundaries lots further with outdoor tasks than we are able to when decorating the inside of our houses. The water tower and storage shed have been designed by Tectonicus. The project combines wooden and metal roofing with inbuilt shelving and a piece station.

The main home has the identical green and white paint colours as this cottage potting backyard shed. Extras like a deck, stone path, and cottage type blended planting borders make the backyard shed design really feel more like a home than a place for storage. There are numerous backyard shed adorning ideas, together with lace curtains within the home windows, quaint bench, and outside art. The plants surrounding the building are in danger of being broken by rain. Standard wood framing and OSB on the partitions of the sheds are what they are constructed with. The OSB wood and frame are shielded from rain and snow with vinyl siding.

The size, look and distance from the principal building and boundary strains could additionally be regulated by the “accent buildings” within the municipal bylaw. If the aim is to have a space to chill out, the last thing you want to do is make it. Which is why the low key shed was designed and decorated with objects from Painted Home. A celebration prepared area can be created with the addition of a pavilion.

The features of the main house may be matched with wood sheds. There are a quantity of ornamental choices that might be added to the sheds. There are also practical options that may be added corresponding to benches, ramps, ventilation methods, and electric lighting. Potting sheds, that are designed for gardening, typically feature skylights, grilles, and a potter’s bench for mixing soil and re potting plants. Plastic shed kits could also be cheaper than sheet metallic sheds. Plastic shed kits aspect by facet with vinyl are one of many least expensive kinds of shed development.

The plans are popular as a result of I see it lots, but this shed design should be available if it’s well-liked. This one has a hat tip to log cabins. It’s much simpler to get a lawnmower out of this fashion. The grey and pink stains Garden Shed are comparable. These are made utilizing supreme at school material and progressive tools and expertise in compliance with the rules defined by the market. These are examined previous to the ultimate supply of the order.