Guelph Cocoa shell mulch is toxic to dogs and cats
Click to learn more

garden-mulchMulches are used to create a layer of material which sits on top of the soil surface, and can be either organic (leaves, bark, wood) or inorganic (stone, rubber etc.). Different materials perform in slightly different ways, but generally they provide the following benefits:

  • Reduces weed growth
  • Retains soil moisture
  • Cools root zone
  • Promotes nutrient cycling

How to apply mulch

Mulches should be applied 7-10cm (3-4”) deep to work best. If applied at this level it will last for a number of years, so don’t dig it into the ground. Mulch should be tapered down to ground level around the stems of garden plants to provide good air circulation and allow for normal growth. Do not pile mulch around the stems and trunks of trees and shrubs, as this can lead to rot, disease and death.

Using leaves as mulch

Leaves make a great mulch for flower beds, vegetable gardens and around shrubs and trees. Leaves break down quickly, returning their nutrients to the soil and help establish a healthy population of soil microorganisms. Simply reapply more leaves each fall.

Mulch and termites

Using bark mulches is preferable to wood, especially in areas of Guelph which are known to have termite populations. Termites will only feed on wood, not bark. Bark mulches also tend to ‘matt
down’ better, forming a stronger barrier against weeds and retaining water more effectively. View a list of mulches indicating which ones are approved for use in termite areas (be sure to read the cocoa shell mulch warning). Using the approved mulches beyond the termite areas can also help stop the spread of termites.