Although mulching is perhaps the slowest of all the cold composting methods, it offers many benefits.

Mulch discourages weeds, protects soil from compacting or eroding, and keeps the roots of plants cool and moist in hot weather and insulated in the winter.

Mulching, another cold composting method, copies nature’s way of composting on the surface of the soil, and gardeners have been doing it for centuries. The idea is to use woody, “brown” organic materials, put the material through a chipper, a shredder or break into small pieces, and spread the resulting mulch in layers on the garden or flower bed  or around shrubs and trees.
Because this mulch is not dug into the soil but decomposes on the surface, the pH balance of the soil under the mulch is not disturbed nor is the soil robbed of its nitrogen.

My Favorite Mulches:

1. In the summer I would buy cedar mulch to spread around my shrubs and flowers. A layer of 3 to 4 inches would help keep the soil fairly moist even in hot summer weather; in addition, where I had spread the cedar mulch, very little, if any, weeding needed to be done.

My roses just loved the cedar mulch… and the ants and the cats seemed to  hate it. So that suited me just fine!

2. Another type of mulch I just loved was the cocoa bean shells; how I loved to inhale the beautiful chocolaty aroma which would permeate the air when it rained or when the flowers were being watered.

In addition, because cocoa bean shells decomposed so quickly, the plants could benefit from the composted material after 4 to 8 weeks.

Unfortunately, cocoa bean shells turned out to be more expensive than cedar mulch because the shells would decompose fairly quickly so I had to buy more cocoa bean mulch a few more times during the summer to replenish my beds.

Because this method was fairly expensive and I had a lot of ground to cover, I used this mulch for only one season during the 1980′s. Perhaps it is cheaper now.

3. For winter mulching, I would gather all the fallen leaves not only those in my yard but also in my neighbours’ yard every fall and put them through the leaf mulcher.

(Because I live in Southern Ontario, Canada, where the cold weather usually begins around November/December, I couldn’t add the mulch to the rose beds until the temperature was much closer to zero Celsius because I did not want the shrubs to begin growing new branches which would then be killed by the frost/cold.)

So in late October or early November , I would spread layers of this broken down leaf mulch all over my rose gardens. I made sure each rose bush would be protected from the winter elements with as much of this leaf mulch as possible.

Although piling up the soil around each bush works fine, I found that when I used the leaf mulch (along with the soil for I never had enough mulch), I would have more roses earlier in the spring, and my roses seemed to be more fragrant.

4. A fourth way to mulch is to spread bark mulch or wood mulch around your trees. You can buy this type of mulch or you can make your own if you have a wood chipper and put your scrap branches through it. (Note: For some reason, roses do not like pine tree or pine leaf mulch. So I never used pine mulch around my roses)

When I would trim my fruit trees and my red maple trees, I would then make mulch by putting the cut branches which were less than 2 inches thick through a small wood chipper bought at Canadian Tire. (Obviously I never used diseased branches or twigs.)

I had cedar hedge all around my back yard, so when I would cut and trim those hedges, I would gather the cut material and put that through the chipper and then cover the ground around my hedges with this newly made  cedar mulch.

5. One type of mulch which appeared on the market in the spring of 2009 and  which is fast becoming extremely popular is what is known as Nincompoop ( sold through Home Hardware (at least here in Ontario in 2009).

I  used it last summer (2009) in my balcony containers, and I love how it helps retain moisture and at the same time every time the plants were watered they were being fed by the nutrients in this mulch.  What people like is that although the major component of this   gardening and landscaping mulch is manure,  the finished product  looks like earth.

According to the creators/owners, “this Nincompoop is the world’s first Eco-Friendly, Weed-Resistant Organic Mulch that amends your soil by providing food for your worms while retaining 3-times its weight in moisture!  It is a “Moisture Blanket” for your gardens which provides complete weed resistance (when applied properly).

Nincompoop is the only garden mulch that is Weed-Resistant, made of organic ingredients, retains 3x its weight in moisture, that turns into Black Earth…that is why it is Patent Pending.”

You can read more about it at the nincompoop website.  (No, I am not an affiliate, and I am not getting any advertising compensation.  I just love the stuff. If you can’t get the real manure, or you don’t have enough homemade compost, then this is the next best thing for your garden.) 

If you need a mulch that protects and nourishes, use nincompoop.  It may seem expensive, but it’s well worth every penny.

Mulching tips:

1. ONE NOTE OF CAUTION: In the spring, you have to move this leaf mulch away from the rose stems so that the “little decomposter critters” do not decide to include your rose stems as mulch to be decomposed.

I lost two of my favourite beautiful tea rose bushes before I realized what was eating them. From then on as early in the spring as possible, I would push the leaf mulch away from all rose stems to avoid having them being eaten away.

2. You can break down your leaves by going over them with your mulching lawn mower or by putting the leaves in a large metal garbage can and using your whipper snipper(lawn edger) to somewhat break down the leaves.

As you can see, there are as many different types of mulches as there are gardeners. The idea is to use the cold decomposting method via mulching by breaking down woody material (either with a chipper or with a mulcher)and then  spreading the resulting mulch on top of the garden soil so plants can keep growing undisturbed by the decomposition process going on.

3.  To my chagrin I understand that some people are using rubber mulch in their gardens. Now  this is important! Before you decide to add rubber mulch to your flower beds or to the garden, please oh please find out more about what you are planning to add to your beautiful earth.

Please read my post about the  dangers of rubber mulching  at my if you are planning to use rubber mulching. Hopefully you will not make the makers of rubber mulch richer by ruining your soil!

4.  Also, if buying mulch for your garden, please be aware that red dye is toxic for both humans and for our little critters doing the decomposting.  Remain natural.  It’s prettier, safer, and healthier for the environment.

Next post is indoor composting.

Until then . . .

Happy Gardening!


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8 Responses to “Mulching

  • 1
    March 10th, 2010 06:02

    One of our readers recommended this blog post:…

    The idea is to use woody, “brown” organic materials, put the material through a chipper, a shredder or break into small pieces, and spread the resulting mulch in layers on the garden or flower bed or around shrubs and trees. ……

  • 2
    forex robot
    May 30th, 2010 20:06

    My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

  • 3
    Tourism Guide
    May 31st, 2010 20:07

    Good post – and good domain by the way!

  • 4
    Copiatoare Second Hand
    June 14th, 2010 18:41

    I’ve been thinking the exact exact point myself lately. Glad to see another person on the same wavelength! Good report.

  • 5
    Danielle Oliverio
    June 20th, 2010 14:01

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  • 6
    H. Eberts
    April 25th, 2011 19:22

    I am new at gardening and am wondering if I should remove all of the natural non- coloured cedar mulch I put on my perennial beds last summer for weed control (about 2 inches) OR if I should dig it into the soil before adding new mulch. Some of the mulch I put on last year has turned a bit yellowish…….I don’t know if the cedar was new cut or a mix of new and aged. I’ve read that new mulch will take too many nutrients from the soil if dug in. However, what counts as aged? Last year’s mulch has had 10 months of weather (I live near Ottawa). Should I be adding bone meal or something else to the soil?
    First of all any kind of cedar mulch will not harm your perennial beds. If you wish to make your plants grow more, push the cedar mulch aside and add some compost or manure. Bone meal is especially good when transplanting; it makes the roots take hold. Everything depends on what you wish to do with your plants. If you wish to divide them up because they are taking up too much space and you are transplanting, use bonemeal in the hole you are digging. If you want to give your plants a boost and at the same time replenish your soil, use compost or manure which you can buy at any hardware store or nursery. I buy my compost/manure at Home Depot. One extra point, you should replenish your soil every year with natural material as opposed to using synthetic plant food which does nothing for the soil. After a few years, your plants do not have much smell anymore.

    After you have added your compost or manure, cover your soil with the cedar mulch. If you don’t like the color of the stuff which you have, simply add more on top of it. If you are feeding your plants with a lot of liquid plant food, the worms do not like the salt from it. You want the worms in your soil, for they will turn your mulch into compost plus the vermicompost produced in your soil will also add nutrients to your soil. So use just natural material for feeding your

    Hope this helps. If you have any more questions, you can email me at

  • 7
    Irene @ SmilingGardener
    November 4th, 2011 10:42

    I love this site! I am about to start my garden next week and I was thinking of mulching it first, thanks to this blog I now know what steps should I take in mulching my garden.

  • 8
    Flett Hofstad
    March 26th, 2012 20:53

    I can definitely see your skills within the paintings you write. The arena hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Thank you.

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