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MULCHES

 

mulch - any material applied to the surface of the soil or growing medium 

Mulches are almost always beneficial to use, and their use is highly recommended.  In nature, the soil under plants is covered by a natural mulch of composting litter (leaves, twigs, etc.)
 
 
 

TYPES OF MULCHES

1) organic - bark, leaves, sawdust, straw, hay, needles, paper 

2) inorganic - plastic, gravel 
 
 
 

BENEFITS AND USES OF MULCHES

1) stabilizes soil temperature - cooler in summer; warmer in winter under a mulch

2) conserves water - decreases evaporation of water from soil surface

3) better water infiltration - more rain or irrigation water soaks-in due to slower runoff

4) controls erosion - due to slower runoff

5) may add nutrients - upon decomposition, if it is a) organic and b) has a low C:N ratio

6) decreases weed growth - decreases germination of weed seeds and growth of weed seedlings

7) appearance - used for decorative purposes