The Simple Guide To Mulching Your Garden And Landscaping

If you want a thriving garden and stunning landscaping around your home you need to make sure that you are helping to protect your soil. Bare tends to struggle to retain water and nutrients and has more issues with pests than a well-protected garden soil.

Every gardener should consider mulch when they are planning their gardens for the year. This guide will help you find the right mulch for your needs and your garden.

The benefits of mulching your garden

There are many benefits to using mulch in your garden and your landscaping. These help to make the most of your garden and help you have a nicer yard or produce more food in your garden with less work.

Moisture Retention:

Mulch acts as a natural barrier, reducing moisture evaporation from the soil. By covering the ground with a layer of mulch, you create a shield that helps retain moisture, ensuring your plants stay hydrated, especially during hot and dry spells. This means less frequent watering, which saves both time and water.

Weed Suppression:

Tired of battling weeds? Mulch can be your best ally. A thick layer of mulch inhibits weed growth by blocking sunlight, which many weed seeds need to germinate. Say goodbye to endless weeding sessions and hello to a more manageable garden!

Soil Health:

Mulch isn’t just a pretty cover; it also contributes to soil health. As it breaks down over time, mulch enriches the soil with essential nutrients, promoting microbial activity and improving soil structure. This results in healthier, more robust plants with stronger root systems.

Temperature Regulation:

Mulch acts as a natural insulator, regulating soil temperature throughout the year. In the scorching heat of summer, mulch keeps the soil cool, preventing roots from getting stressed. During chilly winters, it provides insulation, protecting roots from frost damage.

Erosion Control:

If you have sloping areas in your garden, mulch can help prevent soil erosion. Heavy rain can wash away topsoil, but a layer of mulch helps absorb the impact of rainfall, reducing runoff and soil loss.

Aesthetic Appeal: Let’s not forget the visual appeal! Mulch comes in various colors and textures, allowing you to customize the look of your garden or landscape. Whether you prefer a natural, rustic vibe with organic mulches like wood chips or a more polished appearance with decorative mulches like colored stones, there’s an option to suit every taste.

Low Maintenance: Once applied, mulch requires minimal maintenance. Occasional replenishment may be needed as it decomposes over time, but compared to other garden tasks, this is a breeze. Plus, the time saved on weeding and watering offsets any maintenance required.

Environmental Benefits: Mulching is eco-friendly! By using organic mulches such as wood chips, bark, or shredded leaves, you’re recycling natural materials and reducing waste. Additionally, mulch helps sequester carbon, contributing to mitigating climate change.

Cheap Mulch ideas for your garden

Before you go out buying the bags of mulch that will be going on sale soon you can look for frugal options that can even be free to help reduce the cost of mulching your garden.

Grass Clippings:

Got a lawn? Don’t toss those grass clippings! Instead, spread them evenly around your garden beds. Grass clippings act as a fantastic mulch, providing nutrients to the soil as they break down. Just make sure the grass hasn’t been treated with any chemicals that could harm your plants. Opt to use a lawn mower that collects the grass clippings.


Fallen leaves are a treasure trove of mulch material, and they’re absolutely free! Gather them up in the fall, shred them with a lawnmower or simply pile them on as-is. Not only do leaves suppress weeds and retain moisture, but they also add organic matter to the soil as they decompose.

Newspaper or Cardboard:

If you have access to old newspapers or cardboard boxes, they make excellent mulch materials. Lay them down in layers, wet them thoroughly to prevent them from blowing away, and cover with a thin layer of soil or other mulch to hold them in place. Not only do they suppress weeds, but they also break down over time, enriching the soil.

Wood Chips or Shredded Bark:

Many tree trimming companies offer free or low-cost wood chips or shredded bark. These make fantastic mulch options, providing excellent weed suppression and moisture retention. Plus, they have a natural look that can enhance the aesthetics of your garden.


Straw is an affordable option often used in vegetable gardens. It’s lightweight, easy to spread, and breaks down relatively slowly, making it a long-lasting mulch choice. Just be sure to opt for straw rather than hay, as hay tends to contain weed seeds.

Pine Needles:

If you live in an area with pine trees, consider using pine needles as mulch. They’re acidic, which is great for acid-loving plants like blueberries, and they interlock well, staying in place even on sloped areas.

How to Save Money on Decorative mulch for your garden

Buy in Bulk

Purchasing mulch in bulk quantities often comes at a discounted rate compared to buying bags individually. Look for local landscaping suppliers or garden centers that offer bulk discounts.

Use Mulch Wisely

Apply mulch strategically, focusing on areas where it’s most beneficial, such as around plants that need moisture retention or weed suppression.

Add decorative mulch over the top of cheap and free options for mulch to help lower the cost while still keeping the nice aesthetic you want for your landscape.

Combine Orders with Neighbors

If you have neighbors interested in purchasing mulch, consider pooling your resources and buying in bulk together to take advantage of volume discounts.

Living mulch

Living mulch involves using low-growing plants to cover and protect the soil surface, providing similar benefits to traditional mulch such as moisture retention, weed suppression, and soil erosion prevention.

Plants That Make Great Living Mulch

Clover (White Clover or Red Clover): Clover is a nitrogen-fixing plant that adds nutrients to the soil while suppressing weeds. It has a low-growing habit and can tolerate foot traffic.

Creeping Thyme: Creeping thyme forms a dense mat of foliage and produces fragrant flowers, attracting beneficial insects. It’s drought-tolerant and can withstand light foot traffic.

Low-Growing Herbs (such as oregano, chamomile, or mint): Many culinary herbs have low-growing habits and can serve as effective living mulch. Plus, they add fragrance and can deter pests.

Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia): Creeping Jenny is a vigorous ground cover with bright green foliage that spreads quickly to cover bare soil. It prefers moist conditions but can tolerate some dryness.

Sweet Alyssum: Sweet alyssum is a delicate-looking flowering plant that forms a dense carpet of small white, pink, or purple flowers. It attracts pollinators and beneficial insects while suppressing weeds. This grows well in shady areas under tall plants.

Strawberry Plants: If you have space, strawberries can serve as living mulch around other crops. Their runners will spread and cover the soil surface, and you’ll get delicious berries as a bonus.

Low-Growing Succulents (such as sedum or ice plant): Succulents are drought-tolerant and require minimal maintenance once established. They add visual interest while protecting the soil. This makes a great low-maintenance garden option.

Remember that mulch makes a great addition to your garden and it can really help make it easier for you.

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