With the rather aggressive onset of our 2019 summer, it is increasingly obvious that “climate change” is not just an inconsequential topic of debate between politicians and environmental activists. Here at ground level we are experiencing the classic signs of increased temperatures and lower rainfall more regularly and more persistently.
Unfortunately for our much-loved gardens, these harsh conditions can be stressful for plants and we need to act before the weather takes its toll on our urban flora. But what to do about it?
Mulch! Mulching is currently one of the best ways to save water and create a happier, healthier environment for plants. Here’s why mulch is so much more than just a pretty covering for your flower beds.
Benefits of mulch
Mulch acts as a shield and protects soil from intense heat. It prevents soil water from evaporating, and coarser types of mulch also allow for air flow above the soil surface. In this way it moderates the temperature of the soil, which is important for all the micro- and macro-organisms (such as earthworms) required to promote good soil health. Mulch has the added benefits of reducing garden maintenance by suppressing weeds, insulating the roots of plants during frosty periods, preventing soil erosion during heavy rainfall and reducing the salt accumulation in the soil.
Organic mulching materials are available in several different types from your local Garden Centre with popular choices including:
- bark chips
- macadamia nut shells
- peach pips
- shredded bark
- wood chip and
Inorganic mulches can also be used to similar effect and although they do not break down and provide nutrients to garden beds, they have the advantage of being durable and longer lasting. Examples of inorganic mulches include:
- gravel chips and
- dump rock.
With a wide variety of colours and sizes available you are sure to create a beautiful yet practical space. Just remember to purchase a landscape fabric, such as weed shield, which will not only help to keep the moisture in your soil but also help reduce weed growth and prevent erosion.