Organic or Non-organic, which is the best garden and landscape Mulch?

by teddletonmr

Using a layer of landscape mulch to control weeds, and retain moisture in our raised garden beds, container and vegetable gardens makes organic gardening easier…

There are many reasons to use organic and non-organic mulch. Keeping weeds from taking over our landscape beds is a popular reason many of us use the stuff. Covering a weep irrigation system or soaker hose helping to control moisture levels in our vegetable gardens and container planting is one of many widely used organic gardening methods.
That brings us to the question many newbie and master gardeners like you and me find ourselves asking. Which mulch is the best for a particular application? After all what makes one of those colorful hardwood mulch, dyed in a popular accent colors, better or worse than a non-organic mulch made of recycled rubber product, or black plastic sheeting.

What is Organic Mulch?

hardwood mulch As many of us are already aware, organic mulch is simply natural materials such as, hardwood tree bark, wheat straw, tree leaves, pine needles, grass clippings. Sawdust, wood chips, and yes-even Pete moss.

On the other hand, there are those of us that prefer to think green and recycle everyday paper products. By recycling old newspapers and cardboard boxes newspaper mulch as garden mulch, keeps them out of the landfill and works great as organic mulch around our tomato and pepper plants in the garden.

For the best results when using hardwood mulch, use a four-inch deep layer after pulling all the unwanted weeds from your garden and landscape beds. Soaking newspaper and cardboard with water before lying around the base of our plants as mulch makes it easier to keep the recycled newspaper and cardboard garden mulch both, in contact with the soil, keeping it from blowing away.


garden & landscape mulch
garden & landscape mulch

What are the Benefits of using organic mulch?

Using organic mulch provides several benefits for our garden.

Shreaded newspaper as mulch in the garden 1. Organic mulch decomposes providing nutrients the microorganisms and earthworms that live in healthy garden soil need.

2. A four-inch layer of good hardwood mulch also helps to keep the soil cool in hot weather there by reducing evaporation of the moisture in the soil.

3. Organic mulch is relatively inexpensive and breaks down into the soil over time.

Benefits of organic mulch
Benefits of organic mulch

What is the down side to using organic mulch?

slugs in the garden 1. Harmful pest such as slugs and snails thrive in the environment, created by a good layer of organic mulch when the weather keeps the mulch damp for extended periods.

2. When organic mulch touches some plant stems, the mulch sometimes causes the plant stem to rot. To prevent this from happening to your plants mulching around garden plants keep the organic mulch at least two inches away from the stems of your vegetable plants.

3. Organic mulch decomposes over time, creating the need for adding a new layer each year to keep it looking and performing its best.

Using Non-organic landscape mulch
Using Non-organic landscape mulch

What are the benefits of using Non-organic Mulch?

recycled rubber landscape mulch 1. Non-organic mulch, black plastic sheets are the most commonly used non-organic mulch product, it is inexpensive, widely available and easy to install.

2. Because the plastic sheets are non-pours and black in color, they deprive weeds of sunlight and oxygen.

black plastic sheeting 3. Black plastic sheet absorbs and stores the sunlight’s energy as heat, where it keeps the ground and the roots of the plants warm after the sun goes down. This is a good thing for tender flowering plants and vegetables, however not so good for hearty ornamental plants and vegetables. They will overheat become stressed and may even die.

Benefits of using Non-organic mulch
Benefits of using Non-organic mulch

What is the down side to Non-organic Mulch?

1. The down side of the black plastic non-organic mulch, it keeps air and water from reaching the roots of plants.

2. This requires gardeners to either cut drill or poke several drain holes in the plastic sheeting to allow water and air to penetrate the plastic sheeting.

3. Non-organic mulch, plastic sheets or recycled rubber landscape mulch products do not break down and decompose back into the soil providing nutritional value to plants.

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When to use Organic or Non-organic Mulch
When to use Organic or Non-organic Mulch

Things to remember about organic and non-organic mulch

Using organic mulch and non-organic mulch products in our landscape, flower and vegetable garden beds is a cost effective way to control weeds, moisture and soil temperature. Organic mulch has the added benefits of breaking down thereby, decompose into our gardens soil Where it not only helps to improve the soil structure, it also helps to maintain nutrient levels in the soil, through earthworm castings, and other microorganisms that live in healthy soils doing what they do.

Colored recycled rubber garden mulch being a non-organic product, look good for many months and in many climates, even many years. However, do not decompose back into the soil providing any nutrients at all. Making it necessary gardeners must remove and replace the recycled rubber garden mulch, and plastic sheeting when it loses its appeal.      

Enjoy your garden, Mike

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Updated: 03/06/2012, teddletonmr
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