Different types of mulch
Radio interview source: Dawn Pettinelli, assistant Extension educator, University of Connecticut
Beautiful and functional
To dress our flower and vegetable gardens, we use the manure bedding from behind the sheep barn. It's an awesome fertilizer, too. In my flower beds, we use wood chips that we chop up with the woodchipper. Mulch looks nice, controls weeds, keeps the soil moist, controls erosion, and provides organic matter.
The mulch available to you depends on where you live. The most common types in the United States are hardwood bark, cypress, pine and cedar. Dawn Pettinelli is an assistant extension educator at the University of Conneticut, and says softwoods like cedar and pine are popular to use because they're good for the plants and they smell good.
"They have that scent because the plant produces different compounds," Pettinelli says. "And these compounds, they smell good, but they are also very slow to decompose. So if you put down something like a cedar mulch, or a hemlock mulch, it will last for two or three years before your notice any appreciable decomposition. That's why you pay more for it."
On the other hand, if you use a hardwood mulch like oak, it's cheaper, but you'll also have to replace it every year or so. For larger areas, consider cocoa shell hulls, because they're smaller and finer. But, if you have a dog, don't lay cocoa mulch down, because he can get sick if he eats it.
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