Mulch – the “Jack of All Trades” for the Garden

Mulch is probably one of the most important things for a garden. Not only does it look great, but it also solves many common gardening problems.

Mulch is any material used to cover the soil and while most people are more familiar with the standard wood chips, mulch can also be grass clippings or even compost. And while mulch isn’t necessary for a garden, the benefits make it worth adding to your gardening plan.

You wouldn’t think something as innocuous as mulch could do so many things but mulch is like the factotum of the gardening world. Not only does mulch protect the soil, it also:

  • Helps retain moisture lost through evaporation
  • Inhibits weeds from growing, which:
    o    Makes the garden easier to maintain
    o    Encourages plant health (weeds steal resources from plants).
  • Controls soil erosion caused by wind and rain
  • Protects plants from stress caused by fluctuating temperatures
  • Adds nutrients back into the soil as it breaks down (depending on the type of mulch you use).

In southern Ontario where we have an erratic freeze/thaw cycle, mulch is great at protecting plants from becoming stressed, since it modulates soil temperature fluctuations. This gives the plants a better chance at thriving when the weather finally does even out.

Use the right mulch at the right time to help your garden grow

The best time to mulch is in late spring once the perennials have grown enough you can see them emerging up through the soil, but are still small enough that they’re easy to work around. The best mulch to use depends on your plants and the purpose of the garden.

There are different types of organic mulch including pine straw, grass clippings, compost, composted manure, peat moss, hay and wood chips or bark.

Organic mulches are great for releasing nutrients into the soil as they decompose, but not all will look great in a garden. When creating a garden for aesthetics it’s best to use utility mulches such as pine bark since they look neater. Remember that since these mulches break down they will need to be replenished periodically throughout the season.

Regardless of the property or the size of the garden, adding a top layer of mulch is an excellent way to clean up the garden space and create a green space that is healthy and relatively low-maintenance.


Written by Paul Lammers
May 11, 2016

Paul Lammers is the vice-president of operations with Garden Grove Landscaping. Garden Grove provides Commercial Landscape Management Services across the Golden Horseshoe, GTA and Southwestern Ontario. Paul may be contacted at or 1-866-996-1099.