Mulch and compost are garden staples, but for many gardeners there is some confusion on how to use them for the best outcome.
Mulch is defined as a protective material placed on the soil surface to aid in the prevention of moisture loss through evaporation, to moderate soil temperatures, prevent weed establishment, enrich the soil, reduce erosion and to highlight and connect hard landscape structures with the soft texture and aesthetic of plant materials.
Composts on the other hand are a combination of decomposing organic materials that are used primarily as soil conditioners for nutrient loading, improving soil structure and increasing biological activity.
Composts are incorporated into the soil through cultivation but can also be used as a surface mulch.
The particle size of composts and mulches will largely determine the best use of the material. Fine composts and mulch materials will break down more rapidly than coarse materials.
You first need to decide what the most appropriate product is for your garden.
With so many composts and mulches available on the market, the most persuasive factor of choice in many cases is not so much the colour, texture or size of the material, but what it's going to cost.
When selecting any compost or mulch it is often a case of "you get what you pay for".
Some of the best mulches are organic, but there are also inorganic mulches such as stones and pebbles that perform well in some landscapes such as succulent gardens.
Organic mulches are available in a range of grades, sizes and colours that can change the entire appearance of a landscape.
Product range may vary from sawmill residue, recycled council organics, graded pine bark, hardwood and softwood chips, leaf litter and a combination of timber blends.
Recycled council organics for use in gardens as mulch or compost has taken some time to become available to many areas, but suppliers are now able to provide the end user with products that meet quality standards.
Check local landscape suppliers for a range of diverse compost and mulch materials and remember it is cheaper to buy in bulk, but bagged products are also available for smaller projects.
Better still, you could close the circle on organic waste all together and make your own compost at home.
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