Mulching different areas of the garden comes with a host of benefits; feeding plants, smothering small annual weeds and improving the structure of your soil – and there are many organic mulches to use.
There’s lots of satisfaction to be had seeing dead plant material from your garden turned into a rich, soil improver. Plus, it comes with the bonus that you can save on trips to the tip, reducing your carbon footprint. If you’re looking for other ways to improve your soil, you could try using green manure.
Discover five organic mulches to use, to boost your soil and keep weeds down, below.
Low in nutrients and an excellent soil conditioner, leaf mould will provide a quick reward for a little effort – a decent mulch after around six months, and by 12 months, it should have broken down enough to be used as potting compost. Here’s our guide on which leaves to use when making leaf mould.
Well-rotted horse manure
In terms of nutrient content, little beats well-rotted horse manure. Nutrient-high, it’s excellent for heavy feeding plants like roses and edibles. Avoid using too much as it can cause plants to produce an abundance of soft, leafy growth, which attracts pests like slugs and aphids.
Mushroom compost, often bought as ‘spent’ mushroom compost is alkaline, light and easy to use. Given its high pH, it’s ideal for lime-loving vegetables, including brassicas like kale, cabbages and broccoli. Avoid using on lime-hating, ericaceous plants like rhododendrons, camellias and heathers.
One of the benefits of using composted woodchips is that their darker colour and smaller particle size looks more natural than large woodchips. Also, given their bulkiness, they’re ideal for improving soil structure by improving drainage and making it more moisture retentive.
Homemade garden compost is a good all-round mulch – great for both mulching and soil improvement. Making compost is simple, and you can use shop-bought compost bins, wormeries (also known as worm bins) or build your own compost bin to use.