Mulches are a useful way to suppress weeds in your garden, while also benefiting the garden by suppressing evaporation from your soil. Other benefits are that as they break down they add goodness to the soil, (much like composts and without having to turn the soil), and they increase the interaction between soil organisms which are needed in the garden.
Mulches should be topped up preferably every 6 months, or the minimum once a year, otherwise you will be spending time trying to keeps the weeds out manually. To effectively mulch your garden they should be placed 50-65mm deep every time you mulch, otherwise it is the same as applying a soft mulch
There are 3 types of mulches to use for your garden soft, medium and hard mulches.
2 examples of soft mulches are straw or sugar cane mulch. These mulches break down quickly and because of this are best used for places like vegetable patches, as what remains of them can be turned into the soil ready for the next crop. They need replacing more regularly than other mulches to suppress the weeds.
Medium mulches are tea-tree mulch or cypress chip. They tend to have a strong smell although they smell good, especially as far as mulches go, but in hotel situations the owners prefer to mulch in quiet times while the smell dies down. These are my favourite mulches, because they have the right consistency to provide goodness to the soil and suppress the weeds.
The third type of mulches are hard mulches like wood chips. Examples are hoop pine, red wood chip, pine chip and other types of eucalyptus. These mulches last a long time and are good for large scale gardens like factories for example where the owner doesn’t want to go back and mulch to frequently. They are also good for gardens where you are not looking to improve the soil for plants which are your pride and joy, but for plants which provide a screen or natural look. Hard mulches break down slowly and provide less soil goodness.
If you mulch regularly after a few years you will notice a difference in the soil in your garden. 2 good examples I can remember is my fathers vegetable garden in hard clay. After many years of mulching and composting the soil was darker, broke apart easier which are good qualities. Also, one of my clients used to create gardens by simply placing wood chips on top of her sandy soil and plant plants in it. I thought it was bizarre at first but after a while I noticed huge beetle larvae turning the chip into soil, which started appearing at the former sandy soil surface.
One tip before I finish is that any garden clippings you might have can be chipped and returned to your garden to help improve it, rather than throwing it away.
If you would like more information or advice regarding mulches feel free to comment below