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Choosing the Right Mulch for Your Project

There are so many kinds of mulch available that choosing the right kind for a given project is like an art form. But there are some considerations you should take into account when picking mulch, like how quickly your mulch material will degrade in the climate and what the aesthetic will look like after a few months. 

Understanding mulch types

Mulch types fall into two main categories: organic and inorganic. Organic mulches are things like wood chips, straw, bark, or compost. Inorganic mulches include gravel, larger stones, or even landscape fabrics. 

These two categories have very different characteristics, and each can perform unique purposes in landscaping. To make the most of your mulch, it’s important to understand which one will work best with your project. 

In general, organic mulches tend to be cheaper but require more maintenance and break down more quickly. On the other hand, inorganic mulches can be more expensive but usually require less upkeep. 

Considerations for selection

There are several factors to consider when choosing an appropriate mulch type for your project. First, think about the purpose of the mulch. For instance, are you intending on using the mulch to walk on? In this case, a simple gravel might be the best mulch. 

However, if this mulch will be used as a children’s playground or if you want something soft to kneel on in the garden, playground mulch might be a better choice. In this case, considering the mulch’s intended purpose can guide you to the best type of material for your project. 

Another important consideration is climate. Many organic mulches are prone to breaking down over time (which can be really beneficial for some projects—especially if you’re using it in a garden), impacting how often you may need to maintain or redo your mulch. 

Even the soil type in the ground you’ll be putting your mulch on can play a part in choosing the right mulch. For example, very loosely packed soil might need a base layer of larger stones, even if you layer another mulch over the top. This helps to create drainage in the soil, which stops water from sitting on top of the mulch – creating flooding – and prevents erosion. 

Finally, one of the most important considerations is simply aesthetics. There is no point in creating a space that you don’t enjoy using. A mulch with a pop of colour like red mulch can be a great choice to add some fun and personality to your project space. 

Mulch maintenance 

All mulches require upkeep, but the different types have different maintenance requirements, and some might work better for your lifestyle or specific spaces and projects. 

For example, inorganic mulches tend to last longer but may allow some plants or weeds to grow between the gravel or rocks over time. This often means that maintenance for these spaces involves weeding or spraying the mulch to clear the weeds. 

For some projects, there might be a better fit. In this case, an organic mulch might be better. Organic mulches tend to break down over time, so upkeep for these mulches generally means heaping more mulch over top of the existing mulch. Although this requires buying more mulch, it is often less nit-picky as you can simply shovel it on and it looks nice again quickly. 

Environmental impact

Choosing the right mulch for a project can also benefit the local environment. If you are environmentally conscious, picking a mulch-like compost that degrades can be a great choice, as the mulch will actively help your plants grow. 

An inorganic mulch can also be an environmentally friendly choice, as it can be used in landscaping and erosion control and can help control the flow of water around your project area. This can be an excellent choice for projects where loss of space from erosion is a worry. 

Ultimately, it can be difficult to choose which is more sustainable: organic mulches, which are biodegradable and can break down to help provide nutrients for plants, or inorganic mulches, which require less upkeep and thus have a lower carbon footprint. 

Choose one that will work best for your individual project, as this will reduce the number of times that you need to rework the same space and thus lower the carbon footprint of the area. Whether you choose an organic or an inorganic mulch, picking one that is eco-friendly can be a great way to minimise your environmental impact.  

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