Mulches help prevent the growth of weeds that can easily invade the garden and compete with your plants' nourishment. Their importance is more evident during hot, sunny days when they prevent rapid evaporation of water. Nowadays, many mulches are available that are not just functional, but also decorative. They make a garden more beautiful with their fanciful display of colors and textures.
Gravel is a type of inorganic mulch that you can use on pathways, shrub beds, steps and driveways. They are also appropriate for rock gardens. Choices vary in sizes, colors and textures more than the usual barks, wood chips or sawdust. Depending on the material used, they can be fine or coarse. Choose from pea gravel, pebbles, lava rocks, limestone, crushed rocks and river rocks. In addition, decomposed granite and rocks from granite or marble remnants are also available options. The wind cannot blow the gravel easily, unlike the wood chips, pine needles and straws. Gravel does not harbor weed seeds or diseases, and it does not rob the soil of nitrogen.
Choose different colors to separate planting beds. Using weed fabric beneath gravel will prevent growth of some weedy grass. Heat can build up around homes with this type of mulch; therefore, keep this in mind when using gravel on planting beds that are next to your exterior walls. White stone can increase reflected heat and may cause additional heat stress to adjacent plant materials. Avoid using limestone chips around acid-loving plants because they raise the pH of the soil.
An excellent way to recycle and reuse broken glass is by using it as mulch. Glass mulch comes in an assortment of colors. Recyclers grind, tumble and round out the sharp edges of various types of recycled glass, which they then sell to landscape shops, home improvement centers or online retailers. Some cities may even offer glass mulch with no charge.
Glass mulch does not absorb; therefore, the water goes straight into the plants. According to Charlie Nardozzi, a senior horticulturist for the National Garden Association in Vermont, glass mulch is primarily a decorative feature. He is unsure if glass can keep the soil cool or moist. It does not break down and fertilize the soil, unlike organic mulch. Glass mulch will work in any type of garden, but is ideal in contemporary or tropical gardens. Mix and match different colors to create demarcation or logos or design to add visual impact to your garden.
Recycling rubber to create rubber mulch involves a unique encapsulation process to give strong long-lasting color. Using rubber mulch has many advantages, which include improved moisture retention, soil insulation and evaporation reduction. It also is cheaper than gravel, suppresses weeds, molds and fungus. Lay down rubber mulch over most existing surfaces including soil, concrete or old bark weed. Place a weed control fabric on soil before laying mulch to prevent growth of aggressive weeds. Use rubber mulch on planting beds of any type. Rubber mulch can also add protection when used on play areas near slides and swings by adding cushion impact on hard surfaces.