Mulching is a good gardening habit but if you are a beginner or cannot afford the cost then it is not strictly necessary. Mulch is a material, such as bark, that covers the soil giving an attractive finish and can enrich the soil as it rots down (depending on the type used).

Mulch can bring some other benefits to your garden and your plants, and these include:

  • Suppression of weeds
  • Retains soil moisture in the height of summer
  • Protects delicate roots from winter cold

Common mulching material can be:

  • Bark – readily available at garden centres and cheap. Will rot down, adding additional nutrients to the soil but will need replenishing.
  • Compost – more expensive but does add lots of nutrients to the soil.
  • Grass cuttings – free if you have a garden but not attractive.
  • Stones – long lasting but adds no nutritional benefits to the soil.
  • Rubber (recycled tyres) – long lasting and looks like bark, but adds no nutritional benefits to the soil.

A downside of mulching can be that it requires extra effort if you decide to move things around in your garden and if you select a mulch that rots down you will need to replace it, usually annually which does bring in additional costs.