Improving the appearance of your landscaping can boost the curb appeal of Albany homes for sale and give your home that wow factor. Mulch is an essential part of the overall look of your landscaping. It gives everything a neat and finished look making your yard look well cared for. The right kind of mulch will help keep your plants healthy too.
Mulch vs. Rocks vs. Ground Cover Plants
There's more than one way to finish off your landscaping, so here's how to know if mulch is right for your situation:
- Mulch is very common and appropriate for a wide variety of soil and plants. It gives your landscape an immediate finished look, and individual plants will be visible. Mulch helps control soil temperature, moisture, deter weed growth, and helps prevent erosion. Organic mulches decompose and add nutrients to the soil, so they will need to be replaced periodically. You won't want to use it in a steep-sloped area or where it can wash away easily.
- Rocks can be considered inorganic mulch since they provide some similar function. They will insulate the soil, but when used extensively around plants, they can trap too much heat, damaging your plants. Rocks will deter weeds but don't retain moisture. So they can be used where fungal growth is a problem or near water. Since they don't decompose, there is no benefit for the soil, so it's better to use them for walkways.
- Ground cover plants give a different look, filling in the area between larger plants. It takes about two years for these plants to grow enough to complete your landscape. Once established, they provide shade and protect the soil. Use them in areas where mulch would slide downhill, or wash or blow away. They're good for wet areas since the plants will use some extra water, preventing runoff or overly moist soil.
What Kind of Mulch to Use
You'll want to stick with organic mulches. They're cheaper and will decompose, adding nutrients to the soil. That's a big plus for new plants. Inorganic mulches don't decompose and some manmade ones can't be used in areas with plants.
- Wood chips, nuggets, or bark. The most common mulch can be purchased in large bags at big box stores and garden centers. Use a layer 2-4 inches deep around trees, shrubs, or in flower beds
- Wheat, barley, or oat straw. Straw is used when seeding your lawn or for a newly seeded garden.
- Pine needles, grass clippings, shredded leaves. Use around trees or shrubs, in gardens, or in flower beds. Use a thin layer only so they effectively decompose and avoid grass clippings treated with herbicides or insecticides.
- Shredded newspapers or cardboard. Good in flower beds for discouraging weed growth. Don't use colored paper or cardboard since some inks and dyes can be toxic. It will need to be covered with another type of mulch, like wood chips, to keep it from blowing away.
- Compost mixture. All plants and vegetables can benefit from the extra nutrients. If you're mixing your own, avoid dog, cat, and pig manure because of disease risk.
- Cocoa chips. These provide deep color and smell good. They decompose faster so avoid excessive moisture. They can be toxic to certain animals so use with caution.
Using the right mulch will keep your landscape healthy, improve your curb appeal, and have you enjoying your outdoor spaces all summer long. Our real estate agents can help you find a home with just the right kind of outdoor space you're looking for. Contact us today to get started.