Mulch comes in a variety of unique textures and colors and is a visually appealing addition to your landscape. It is also beneficial to the soil quality in your garden. Mulching encourages moisture retention in the soil and helps keep weeds under control. It also allows for a gradual release of plant food and nutrients. But, all this goodness needs to be stored properly.
You can store mulch in the garage. As it is often bought in bulk, excess needs to be properly stored somewhere that allows for adequate airflow and no excess moisture.
There are other factors regarding storing your excess mulch, including the amount of mulch, type of mulch used (organic or non-organic), and how long you intend to store it. There are also key methods for storing excess mulch that need to be followed.
Factors Regarding Mulch Storage
To ensure adequate airflow, make certain that bagged mulch has holes for circulation. You may need to poke holes in the plastic bags. Mulch can also be constructed at home out of organic materials you already possess. These mulches are good for the environment and break down without the need for storage.
Several factors determine the best way to store excess mulch, including, what type of mulch you are storing. Mulch is any material that is placed on top to cover the soil. Different types of mulch include:
- Newspaper: Newspaper mulch is an organic option to kill weeds. Newspaper is also the fastest, and most sensible method, of organic mulching. It is best to use newspaper mulch when starting a new plant bed. Here is one man’s successful experience using newspaper as mulch.
- Leaves: Although, not the most aesthetic type of mulch, it is a practical option. Mulching with leaves costs nothing. It is also a great way to attract earthworms to your garden. Leaves break down easily, and as a bonus you can recycle your lawn debris into mulch. Use leaves around flower beds, trees, and vegetable gardens.
- Straw: Make certain that you are using straw, not hay. The difference is explained in this article from the farmer’s almanac. Straw contains little or no seeds, whereas hay is a weeding nightmare.
- Bark: Bark mulch contains large chunks of wood that decompose slowly. This is ideal for moisture retention. It only requires an inch or two of coverage to sufficiently keep sunlight from reaching weeds.
- Lemongrass: Lemongrass has many uses. This option is hardy, easy to grow, and repels mosquitoes. Growing your own lemongrass and cutting it into a mulch is practical and smells wonderful.
Organic mulch will not require storage as it naturally decomposes. This will provide your soil with nutrients and avoid the hassle of storage.
Non-organic, or inorganic mulch, can be a cost-efficient option. Nonorganic mulch does not decompose naturally as quickly as its organic counterpart. Therefore, it does not need to be replaced as often. Examples of non-organic mulch include:
- Rocks and Gravel: Using rocks or gravel as a mulch is an attractive option. Rocks can come in various colors, sizes, and textures. The key to using rocks and gravel as mulch is to only use this around hardy perennials. Never use this around acid loving plants as it will change the balance of the soil. This guide provides instruction on implementing rocks and gravel as mulch in your landscape.
- Plastic Sheeting: Plastic in a garden is not an eco-friendly option. Plastic sheeting covers the soil, preventing moisture, and killing many garden friendly insects. Often, wood mulch is then placed over the plastic, the plastic prevents the mulch on top from benefiting the plants or soil.
- Rubber Mulch: Rubber mulching is a much-debated topic. Rubber does not break down quickly, or decompose, and can last up to ten years. Rubber mulch does allow for moisture to reach the soil easily and is efficient at killing weeds. Science argues that the rubber is harmful to soil and plants. Toxicity in tests has confirmed zinc, iron, copper, magnesium, aluminum, and various other toxic components.
- Landscape Fabric: There are many pros and cons to using landscape fabric in your garden. Landscape fabric is cost effective and prevents weed growth. It does, however, also keep mulch on top from reaching the soil and providing nutrients.
Non-organic mulches tend to be visually pleasing, although, they do not contribute to the quality of the soil or retain moisture for your plants.
How long you intend to store mulch is the key factor in proper storage. Mulch is typically sold in plastic bags, which do not allow proper air circulation. Air is what slows the process of decomposition. If you intend on storing your product for only a few weeks, poking holes in the plastic bag and setting the mulch in your garage is sufficient.
If you need to store mulch for an extended period, you will need to take a few more precautions. Remove the mulch from the plastic and place it on a tarp. Loosely place another tarp on top of the mulch to allow for adequate airflow to reach the mulch.
What to Do if Mulch Goes Bad
Despite preventative actions, sometimes mulch goes ‘sour’. There is no need to fret, as this issue can be resolved. Mulch will begin to smell like rotten eggs or acidic when it decomposes.
If this occurs, you must place the mulch in the sun to dry out. Turn it until all the mulch has dried and lost the foul odor. Do not place spoiled mulch in your garden without first caring for it. Doing this could result in damages and even plant death.
Benefits of Mulch
Mulching your garden and landscape offers an extensive list of benefits. Even if you have to store it for a while, it is well worth taking care of for all of the goodness it can bring to your garden. Positive results from mulching include:
- Soil Health: Organic mulch can provide the soil vital nutrients. These necessary nutrients keep your soil fertile and healthy. Mulch helps the soil retain moisture by providing a slow, steady release of water.
- Financial Benefits: Mulching can save you money on weed killers and pesticides. Reusing and growing your own organic mulch (such as lemongrass) can also save you money.
- Biological Gain: Mulching also creates food for many microorganisms and earthworms, both of which are beneficial to your soil and plant health.
- Plant Health: Mulching protects your plants from disastrous weeds. Mulch can also provide heat to protect plants from frost and provide support for young seedlings.
- Time Saving Benefits: Time spent watering, applying pesticides and fertilizers, and pulling weeds is cut down drastically when mulch is implemented.
- Landscape Beautification: With the many options available for mulching your landscape and garden, mulch can provide visual pleasure.
Always remove old mulch from beds before adding new mulch. It can be tempting to just add new mulch to your hardy foliage. However, adding new mulch to old mulch can result in rot, decay, and even death of your plants. Be sure to remove all visible weeds by hand or with a natural weed killer before mulching.
In conclusion, mulching is a beneficial and crucial step to keeping soil, trees, and vegetables healthy and safe from weeds and parasites. Organic mulch saves you money by recycling paper products such as newspapers, or by growing your own such as lemongrass. Affordable, eco-friendly options, such as straw, also exist.
Different types of mulch exist for various purposes including vegetable gardens, flowers, trees, and visual appeal of your landscape. It is vital to the life of your landscape to properly store your excess mulch. Remember to spread it out between tarps in the garage for long term storage. If it does happen to go ‘sour’, remember to place it in the sun before using it.