The word “mulch” is rather silly-sounding, and its meaning is vague to many. Simply put, all mulches are applied ground covers or soil amendments. There are undeniable benefits to mulch – especially in Calgary – where the winters can be very long and very cold.
Mirage Landscaping has over three generations worth of serving the landscaping maintenance needs of Calgary area commercial and residential clients. We recommend mulch to many of our clients for the best chance of keeping your garden green and healthy for many years to come.
In the Calgary region, mulch is something you shouldn’t overlook, as it serves a purpose year round. Whether organic or inorganic, all mulch accomplishes the following:
- Provides a physical weed barrier. Though some of the materials we describe below work better than others, all of them have some capability to prevent the germination of weed seed.
- Mulches retain soil moisture. All mulches serve to delay the evaporation of water you apply to your garden or flower beds.
- Mulch provides a direct layer of insulation to your plantings. In the winter, mulch helps to protect roots from frost damage. In the spring, mulch will stabilize the soil temperature when days are warming and the nights are still chilly. In the summer, a mulch layer will serve to keep the soil and roots cooler under direct sunlight.
- Some mulches also serve a decorative function by filling visual gaps between your plantings.
Mulches most people are familiar with and that are used by Calgary landscaping companies around the city are comprised of wood products commonly called bark dust, cedar mulch or wood chips. These bark byproducts are very decorative, provide a good weed barrier, and help the underlying soil to retain its moisture.
Three other mulch materials are essentially free for homeowners or enterprising commercial property owners: grass clippings, dead leaves or compost. Ideally, if you want to use grass clippings as mulch, you’d use a mulching style mower to return these clippings directly to the grass, thus immediately returning its nutrients to the lawn. The problem with bagging grass clippings to use as mulch near your house or business is that not only will the mown grass give off a powerful odor when concentrated, clippings can introduce weeds from the grass into your ornamental plantings.
Many Calgary landscapers rake up their leaves in the fall to deposit directly on their perennials as mulch. This is a commonly-used and economical choice, however make sure the leaves you use are clean and not diseased – it’s not uncommon to accidentally transfer plant infections from one species to another. Acidity can be a problem, particularly with leaves from oaks. But leaves do break down well and make for a very rich mulch that is a great habitat for earthworms.
Urban recyclers have been turning toward using newspaper as mulch. Most modern inks used in the grey scale sections of the paper are organic in nature and whether shredded or intact, the paper’s fibres will retain moisture and provide a weed barrier, all while breaking down over time. Just cover the paper over with a more ornamental organic mulch to keep it in place.
Finally, for those in more rural settings where the “lawn” is pasture or deer habitat, straw or hay can be used as a mulch material. It is not that attractive, is easily blown away, and can provide a snug winter bed for unloved rodents, but it is easy to spread, cheap to procure, and does provide the insulation and moisture retention you want out of a mulch.
Fortunately, for Calgary area homeowners and business clients alike, Mirage Landscaping has experience handling all types of mulch applications and can readily consult with you over not only the relative merits of each type, but also which will be the best financial deal over time. Just call us for a free quote.
The best part is that we have the trucks, the crews, and the expertise to buy, and lay, the mulch you select only in the quantity required for the job. Depending upon the size of the mulch installation you have in mind, you just might find that our quote pencils out as more efficient than doing the job yourself.