Different kinds of mulch products may include both organic and inorganic materials. Organic mulches may consist of natural substances that will decompose over time, such as compost, pine needles, or bark. Inorganic materials used for mulch are typically things like plastic, rocks, or landscaping cloth. Each type of mulch has advantages and disadvantages associated with its use. Both organic and inorganic mulches serve the basic purpose of mulching, which is to keep the soil temperature regulated and prevent weed growth.
Mulch products are typically purchased or ordered from garden centers, but organic compost is normally made at home out of kitchen waste. Things like egg shells, produce peelings, and coffee grounds can be piled into a compost bin and allowed to decompose. The result is a thick, black substance that tends to work very well for mulch. In addition to keeping the soil from getting too hot or too cold and helping prevent weeds, the rotted material may also allow valuable nutrients to leach into the soil. This can help plants to become healthier and stronger.
Pine needles and various types of bark are mulch products that are often purchased in bagged form, but are occasionally saved up by people from their yard waste. Many people prefer to use pine needles or bark as a mulching substance because they believe it looks attractive in addition to working well as mulch. It also normally breaks down over time and may need to occasionally be replaced. Some people may also use hay or straw for mulch, but there is a risk of increased weed growth due to the potential of this product to contain weed seeds. Straw is more commonly used to promote grass growth because of the weed risk in the garden.
Inorganic mulch products, such as plastic sheeting and landscape cloth, are not usually considered the best option from an ecological standpoint because most of them either do not decompose or decompose very slowly. Despite the environmental concerns, they are often used because they do not usually attract garden pests. Mulch products containing bark, pine needles, and other natural substances usually attract various types of problem insects. Another advantage to landscape cloths and plastic sheeting is that they may be slightly more effective than other types of mulches for inhibiting weed growth. Rocks used as mulch may be a good middle ground for people who want to be eco-friendly, because they are a natural substance that make a good mulching material but do not attract any insects.