Using mulch in the garden has many benefits. It helps control weeds, meaning less work for you. It helps to keep the ground moister, meaning you have to water less, thereby conserving water. I’ve listed a few of the many choices below. A Pinterest search will bring up a plethora of mulch pictures. I’ve included a few pictures of the mulch we’ve used our gardens over the years.
Grass Clippings – puts lots of nitrogen back into the soil, use just cut grass and layer about 6 inches deep. As long as it’s deep enough, the grass won’t start growing. The picture below is the grass clippings between the fences we grow green beans on.
Rock – different kinds – my inlaws use lava rock in some of their flower gardens. It’s lasted for years
Hay, straw, or dried grass - You don’t have to layer dried as deep as fresh cut grass. 3 inches or so will stop the weeds. Gather your own dried grasses, or get hay bales from your neighbors for free when they take down the fall displays in their yards.
Newspaper and magazines
Brown paper bags, or packing paper
Nut shell mulch - a great option if you have nut trees
Sawdust – A frugal option if you know a woodworker, or live near a saw mill. If your town or city shreds Christmas trees or when they trim back the trees in your neighborhood, you can often get the the shredded trees for free.
Branches or twigs – break the pieces as small as you want, or leave them longer. You can do this by hand, although a chipper-shredder will make the job faster. I don’t have one, so I do it by hand. That’s why the twigs are longer. lol
Shell mulch – a perfect option if you life near a beach
As you can tell from my pictures, I prefer the more frugal, natural options for mulch. Whatever mulch you choose, you should put something under it, instead of the mulch directly on the ground. Using the store bought black weed barriers that are available, newspaper, or cardboard, will help to control the weeds better. I also use magazines under the mulch. If your using natural options for mulch, using a barrier underneath it will extend the life of the mulch longer than putting the mulch directly on the ground.
The natural mulches are cheaper, and will put nutrients back into the soil. The rocks, rubber mulch, or shells won’t to be replaced as often as the other mulches.
The mulch you choose will depend on your budget, the look your going for, and your goals for the mulch.