About Central Florida Gardener

Welcome and thank you for visiting Central Florida Gardener. Florida is a unique state in which to garden. It can be frustrating but also rewarding for gardeners who persevere. This blog was created as a resource for Florida gardeners, both new and experienced, in search of information specifically for Florida gardens.

You are invited to participate by leaving your comments, suggestions, tips and recommendations relevant to Florida gardening - don't be shy! Thank you for dropping by to learn more about gardening in the Sunshine state. I look forward to hearing from you! Susan

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mulch is Essential

You've been working hard on creating a low-maintenance, Florida-friendly landscape that you can enjoy year round. Your soil has been amended with lots of rich compost, you've planted the right plants in the right places, the right trees in the right places to help conserve energy. What's next?

Mulch, Mulch and more Mulch!!!

Pine Bark
The last step in creating that low-maintenance, sustainable landscape is mulch! There are many wonderful benefits of mulch:

1) Reduced weed growth. For extended protection place 2 to 3 layers of newspaper around plants prior to mulching. The newspaper will breakdown slowly reducing the amount of weed seeds that are able to germinate.

2) Reduced amount of water needed to sustain plants. A 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch will protect soil from the sun's drying rays, thereby retaining moisture in the soil for a longer period of time, which equates to a savings in water useage.

3) Cools the roots of plants in the heat of summer. Plants will be less stressed if their root system can remain cool especially those who are planted in full sun.

4) Provides nutrition to the plant as it breaks down - depending on what type of mulch you use.

Oak Leaves
Mulch Options

1) Bark or wood chips - provide good coverage and last the longest. Pine bark (a renewable resource), melaleuca and eucalyptus varieties are easily found in Florida. Cypress is also readily available but is NOT a wise choice. It is an important wetlands tree that is slow growing. Currently, very old stands of cypress are being cut down to provide mulch and the growth rate of new cypress cannot keep up with the demand. Click here to read more about Cypress mulch. It is better to use a mulch such as melaleuca which is an invasive tree in the state.

2) Pine needles are another great option especially if you have pine trees growing in your yard. Many local nurseries currently offer pine needle mulch.

3) Oak leaves are another great option for mulch and for adding nutrients to the soil. Plant oaks in flower beds and those beds will self-mulch when the trees drop their leaves. Free mulch and very little work to get the beds mulched.

4) Grass clippings make for a good mulch if they do not contain a lot of chemicals. They do breakdown quickly and need to be replenished often.

5) Gravel is an option but does not provide much of a block to weeds, nor any plant nutrition.

6) Rubber mulches are not the best as they do not provide any nutritional benefit to the soil and may even leach chemicals.

Mulching takes time and is an added expense, but applying a nice thick layer of it to your garden beds is essential, and well worth the extra effort in the long run.

No comments: