Mulch Mulch Mulch
Why mulch? Mulch reduces water loss due to evaporation, moderates the soil temperature, suppresses weeds, and controls erosion. Also, mulch can also be used to make walkways or paths throughout your landscape. The different types of mulch are organic and inorganic. Organic mulch breaks down (decays) to provide some nutrients to the soil. However, mulch is not a replacement for fertilizer. Use about a 3” to 4” layer for this type while keeping an inch or two away from the stems to allow for air movement. The different kinds of organic mulch here in Florida are; pine bark, cypress, eucalyptus and chemically colored cypress in red or black. I prefer pine bark nuggets, which are good for the plants and really dresses the yard. For a time, loggers were tearing up our Everglades to create cypess mulch for the big box stores. I am not sure if this has completely stopped. The red colored mulch leaches the coloring dye chemical into your plants. This is not a good thing. If your area is naturally wet, or unnaturally with roof or yard drains, the layers of mulch will inhibit the soil from drying out. Some plants can actually drown during wet seasons. Also, fungi growth can be a huge problem. To reduce this problem, occasionally stir the mulch to allow it to breathe. (More on fungus in another post) Do not mulch your citrus trees (More on citrus in another post), as they are very susceptible to fungal problems. Acid loving plants thrive when oak leaves, pine needles, or peat moss is used for mulch. They are azaleas, camellias, gardenias, magnolias, hydrangea, even hibiscus and jasmine like a little acid. Mulch can be applied just about any time of the year or when trees and shrubs are being planted. The best time, to apply mulch in established bed areas is in mid-spring and oak leaves (acid) can be spread when available. Inorganic material is often used as mulch, which includes gravel, rock, or stones. This provides an aesthetically pleasing look if not overused. After all, this is not Arizona!