Nothing rhymes with Mulch.

Posted November 6, 2013 in Landscape Design, Melbourne, Mulch, Organic, Produce Gardening, Raised Bed Gardening, Sustainability, Yarra Valley

Mulch is a big part of the garden and there are so many options to take in. Last year, as part of my university studies, I developed and undertook a sustainability audit –  and mulch was one of the items I reviewed and rated. The different types of mulch I rated were: Red gum chips, pine bark mulch, newspaper, sugar cane mulch and rubber mulch. My rating guide then looked at the following:

  • Material selection – what is the manufacturing process, is it a by-product, does the material break down etc.
  • Durability – what is the lifespan of the product?
  • Aesthetics – how does it look in the garden?
  • Origin – where is it made, how far has it travelled (this was in relation to Melbourne).
  • Benefit to the garden and plants – did it assist in any of weed control, moisture retention, benefit to soil structure?

MulchWhat you can see from my findings is that Pine Bark Mulch came out with the best rating based on sustainability, however, it’s not suited to all situations. Sugar Cane mulch which is great for produce gardening loses big points due to it’s durability and origin – clocking up a  number of kilometres travelling to Melbourne from Queensland. When it comes to produce gardening people generally chose between Sugar Cane, Pea Straw, and Lucerne Hay.

These three mulches are feeding mulches and provide nutrients and condition the soil. They are therefore perfect for produce gardens, but will require topping up. I used to use Sugar Cane mulch but now opt for Pea Straw. It can be obtained locally and has therefore not travelled over 2000km to get here! I also found that the Pea Straw didn’t break down as rapidly. If you have a produce garden, you should consider giving it a good weed now and laying a nice healthy layer of mulch down, anything between 30-50mm.  This will help retain water in the warmer weather and reduce the amount of weeding that needs to be done, which is particularly annoying for larger patches *looks away from weedy patch*

Do be wary of free mulch from your local council or roadside vendors. These can contain a lot of weeds and seeds which could involve much more work further down the track. Ensure any green waste has been composted. I phoned the Yarra City Council who confirmed that they don’t treat their green waste mulch first! Speak to your local Council before opting for this type of mulch.

I hope this information helps and if you think of a word that rhymes with mulch then get in touch!