The Home and Gardening section of The Dallas Morning News had an excellent article last month that discussed how you can create your own mulch and let that mulch work to protect your lawns and gardens. While most think of mulches as a way to feed what’s growing in their yard, mulches also protect what’s living underneath from too much sunlight and heat, or too much rain and a lack of drainage.
Either way, organic mulches are an excellent and often free way for you to keep your yard and gardens green, living and healthy even in the most extreme climates.
Associated Press author Lee Reich writes more about the sources you can use for mixing up your own organic mulch:
Organic mulches often are available free. Right out in your backyard or your neighbor’s you will find one good material: grass clippings. Grass clippings are rich in nutrients, so mulching with them gives a weed-and-feed effect. Just make sure that any clippings you use are not from lawns treated with herbicide.
You also might have piles of fall leaves or pine needles, which are excellent mulches.
Wood chips are an organic mulching material that you often can get free, or you can buy them. Although poor in nutrients, wood chips are relatively long-lasting on the soil and so are particularly good for using beneath trees and shrubs and around perennial flowers.
Similar in all respects to wood chips is sawdust. Paper, another good organic mulch, is another wood product. Although not very attractive, a few layers of paper – either newspaper or commercial paper mulch – will kill weeds and seal in moisture. Cover the paper with something more attractive, such as wood chips, to hold it down and hide it.
Straw and hay are also excellent mulches. Straw is just stems and leaves, but hay contains seed heads, which can germinate and become weeds. These weeds may not be a problem if you occasionally fluff up the hay mulch to uproot the weed seedlings while they are still small.
Finally, we come to designer organic mulches, not necessarily better than other organic mulches but conveying a certain look. Buckwheat hulls and crushed pecan shells look pretty blanketing the ground with a uniform, pebbly brown texture. Expect to pay designer prices for designer mulches.
The only organic mulch to avoid is peat moss. The problem with peat is that once it dries, it’s hard to wet again. It is dusty and repels water.
the author also offers up advice on organic versus synthetic mulches, how to time your mulch usage and more in her original article. See that article onlinefor complete information.