You are what you mulch with, or at least your garden is. Choosing an eco-friendly mulch can make a big difference in your garden and your eco-footprint.
Mulching is a large part of gardening and landscaping. Mulch is the background of your plants, shrubs and flowerbeds. The mulch you choose can set the tone for your gardening, weed prevention and the amount of water allowed to drain through your gardens. People use various types of wood and bark products while mulching, but there are some newer, more innovative ideas to mulch your garden in a more sustainable manner.
A mulch to stay away from, if you are being mindful of the environment, is cypress mulch. Although is the choice for most people when mulching because of its affordability, it comes with a high environmental price. The University of Florida states that companies use over 129,000 tons of Florida’s cypress trees for mulch. Unfortunately, this removes almost 3 million cubic feet of the trees — more than can be replaced. Not only is it a bad option for the planet, but it also does not last. Cypress mulch tends to decompose quickly, fade fast, prohibit proper water flow and encourages the growth of mold.
While cypress is one mulch you should avoid, there are some excellent choices when it comes to mulching earth consciously. If you are looking for a way to beautify your garden and landscape while being kind to the planet, choose from one of these options:
Doesn’t sound very earth-friendly, does it? Rubber mulch is a great choice when it comes to caring for the planet because it is made from reused rubber tires that would otherwise end up in landfills. Rubber mulch is very attractive, and is available in various colors. It lasts forever (it is rubber, after all) and helps to maintain good moister in the dirt. It even prevents unwanted insects such as termites from invading your garden. Rubber mulch is a little more expensive than wood mulches, but lasts much longer. In the long run, you will save a lot of money not having to replace your mulch every year.
Melaleuca is a plant native to Australia that provides many health benefits through its oil. Melaleuca oil has been used by naturalists for years as a powerful antifungal, antibiotic and antiseptic for healing and restoring the body. Unfortunately, the plant has overgrown many areas throughout Florida, making it an issue, not a benefit. In South Florida, it is changing the ecosystem of the wetlands and needs to be removed. Forestry Resources of Fort Myers has started to remove the rapidly growing plant and grinding it into mulch. Using this mulch in your garden helps to restore the natural wetlands in Florida.
Have you ever thought about using local factories’ waste for your garden’s mulch? It is more than possible — it is the perfect match. Many factories that process peanuts, cocoa or cornhusks may provide you with their “waste” for free. Nut shells, cornhusks and straw byproducts make great mulch. They are durable, water resistant and look great. If you live in a location where leaves fall in the autumn, shred them, save them in bags during the winter months and then use them combined with another type of mulch for an exotic and colorful look in the spring.
Consult your local hardware store for more eco-friendly options. And be sure to read the labels of any bag of mulch that claims to be “eco-friendly” to ensure it is authentic and not a marketing ploy. For example, cypress mulch companies may claim their mulch is environmentally friendly because it is biodegradable, but with proper research you will discover it is not. Look at what the mulch is made from and how it is made. The best option is to use or reuse waste materials. It will save you money and it will provide purpose for what would otherwise be considered trash.