My Random House College Dictionary, revised 1982, defines the word “mulch” as a covering, spread or left on the ground, around plants to prevent excessive evaporation or erosion, enrich the soil, etc. The definition has been expanded in the green industry to include weed control and decoration. Mulch has become the poster child for recycling and recycled products. There is currently a poupourri of mulch products that are produced locally and used regionally that are bi-products that have been re-purposed.
There are 12 types of mulch discussed below but there are many more on the market:
Mulches, historically, were agricultural by-products that were readily available, inexpensive, found in mass quantities, and could be incorporated into the soil profile once the crop was harvested. When the needs expanded in the horticulture/landscaping industry, for uniform looking products, mulches were made out of by-products of the building and tree maintenance industries and when the processing technology collided i.e. tub grinders, power screeners, windrow turners, with the recycling industry the mulch options grew exponentially. Since mulch is added after new plants have been installed shredded hardwood mulch proved to be the easiest to work with, keep in place, and at the lowest cost. Mulching around newly landscaped plants will:
These are all important in preserving new landscapes and assisting in keeping them well maintained. The goal in mulching is to afford the plants time to grow and touch together. The plants themselves take on the responsibility for weed control, etc., reducing the need to replenish the mulch year after year. The variety of mulches allows each homeowner to be creative with their strategic uses and continues to support the recycling effort to reduce the amount of material in the waste stream.