Mulch 101 for Florida Homeowners

What Is Mulch?

In its simplest form, mulch is any substance that covers the surface of the soil. In nature, mulch is simply fallen leaves and plant debris. In the garden, mulch can contain compost, wood chips, rotten fertilizer, cardboard and even seaweed.

The sustainable environmental benefits of mulch have become much more appreciated in recent years. When mulched properly, the living microbes in the soil feed on nutrients and the waste products of these tiny microbes create a healthier soil structure of plants and limit their density.


Mulch Benefits

  • Reduces weed growth by preventing light from reaching the soil surface.
  • Retains soil moisture by reducing water loss on the soil surface.
  • Adjusts soil temperature to keep warm on cold nights and cool on hot days.
  • Protects exposed soil and reduces soil erosion and compaction. Protects plants from severe frost, thaw and winter winds.
  • Prevents the soil from spraying on the leaves and reduces the risk of fungal and bacterial diseases in plants. 
  • Decomposes and nourishes the soil.
  • Improves plant health and growth because it keeps the soil moisture and temperature stable.
  • Improves the overall look of your garden and gives it a uniform appearance. 


Are There Any Reasons To Avoid Mulch?

  • Excessive mulching (layers greater than 3 inches deep) can bury and choke plants. 
  • Mulch can cause skin rot when it accumulates around tree trunks and shrubs. Keep the mulch 6-12 inches away from the root of the woody plant.
  • Light-colored, wood-based mulches, like sawdust or fresh wood chips, can steal nitrogen from the soil as they break down. Counter this effect by adding a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to the mulch. 


Organic Mulches 

Organic mulches are natural products made from leaves, trees, grass and other botanicals, often sourced from your garden. They mimic nature and gradually decompose over time. The upside is that they really add organic matter to the soil. The downside is that it has to be refilled regularly.

  • Compost
  • Shredded or chipped bark 
  • Shredded leaves and leaf mold
  • Straw and salt marsh hay
  • Grass clippings
  • Pine needles 


Inorganic Mulches

Inorganic mulches are products made from man-made materials. They don’t gradually decompose over time like organic mulches, but they also don’t have to be refilled regularly. 

  • Black plastic mulch
  • Silver plastic mulch 
  • Crushed stone, gravel, marble or chips


Are you ready to improve your garden? Contact M&W Supply in Sarasota for all your landscaping needs. We have everything you need to turn your backyard into your dream garden! Browse our broad selection of mulches, sods, rocks and decorative elements – all in one place, at great prices. Call us today and let’s work together!

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