How to Choose the Best Organic Mulch for Your Garden Plants

Garden plants are inseparable from natural organic coverings. Applying organic mulch will greatly reduce your gardening time. Although you spend time and effort applying mulching to garden plants, you can reap many rewards. Scientific and reasonable mulching can greatly reduce the time cost of watering, weeding, fertilizing and preventing pests and diseases. How to choose the best organic mulch for your garden plants? This guide of choosing organic coverings for your garden can help you.

What is organic mulch

Organic mulch is a substance that covers the surface of the soil around garden plants or trees after being crushed and processed. Organic mulch breaks down naturally, providing nutrients for plants and improving the soil.

Why choose organic mulch

Organic coverings can be obtained for free, or purchased at a cheap price. And organic mulch has many benefits for the soil and your garden plants:

Maintain soil moisture
Organic coverings are naturally broken down into humus, which has the ability to retain a lot of water. In addition, organic mulch can slow the evaporation of water, keep the soil hydrated, and reduce the number of waterings.

Suppress weeds
Covering organic mulch is one of the best ways to remove weeds. The shadow provided by a certain thickness of organic matter can effectively block sunlight, inhibit the growth of weeds, kill most of the weeds, and also make it easier to pull the weeds.

Reduce soil erosion
Organic mulch has a good buffering effect against heavy rain or water erosion, can prevent soil erosion and soil erosion, and reduce dust.

Improve soil
After decomposition, organic mulch can release nutrients and increase organic matter in the soil. Organic matter is an extremely important part of the soil. It improves the soil structure.

Regulate soil temperature
Mulches can reduce water evaporation, so they also help regulate soil temperature. In cooler weather, geothermal heat can cover plants and maintain a certain temperature. During the hot season, the moisture captured by the mulch keeps the soil cool.

Prevent pests and diseases
Organic coverings can reduce the spread of garden diseases.

Beautiful decoration
The organic covering has a natural shape and rich texture, which enriches the design elements of the landscape garden and makes the greening more attractive and increase the aesthetic effect.

How to choose the best organic mulch for your garden plants

Common types of organic coverings in gardens:

  • Leaves
  • Grass Clippings
  • Bark
  • Wood Chips
  • Straw
  • Hay
  • Pine Needles
  • Compost

Leaves and grass clippings

The leaves are the best organic covering and one of the easiest organic coverings around the garden. The leaf cover is very suitable for blocking the light of weeds and can inhibit the growth of weeds. As long as there are deciduous trees in the garden, autumn leaves will be everywhere, and most of the leaves can be used as organic cover.

If conditions permit, the leaves can be cut into smaller volumes and then covered, which will be more conducive to decomposition.

Grass clippings are also popular organic mulch. It can quickly decompose and provide a certain amount of nitrogen for growing plants. Avoid using grass clippings on chemically treated lawns, the grass clippings which containing herbicides may kill your plants.

Bark and wood chips

Bark and wood chips are the most common organic mulch in gardens and are usually easily available, and it is not affected by weeds and pesticides. The bark and wood chips are heavier than other mulches, so they may compact the soil.

Bark and wood chips are ideal organic coverings for fruit trees, shrubs, and perennial flowers. Because their decomposition rate is slower than other types of organic mulch, they only need to be replaced once a year or two years.

You can also collect branches as mulch. Branches have more nutrients than bark and can better improve soil quality.

Straw or hay

Straw or hay is also the most popular organic mulch in the garden. They are easier to break down, and they are cheaper and can be bought in any garden center. Straw or hay can lock in moisture, control soil temperature, fight against weeds, and give the garden a beautiful appearance.

The difference between straw and hay is that hay has more seeds, so you need to choose hay without seeds.

Pine needles

If you want to reduce weeds, pine needles are a good choice. It can effectively block sunlight and organize the growth of weeds. Pine needles are acidic and can add extra acidity to the soil. It is very suitable for covering under hydrangeas, azaleas and other plants that like acid soil.


A good quality mulch that can also be used in the garden is compost, which is made from kitchen or garden waste or rotten animal waste. When rain falls on the compost, nitrogen and carbon will enter the soil and improve the soil. You may consider homemade compost, but it may contain weed seeds. We recommend that you use commercially produced compost whenever possible.

It’s best to cover the compost mulch with another organic mulch, such as wood chips or grass clippings, to suppress weeds.

How much organic cover do you need

Usually, it is sufficient to cover the soil surface under the plant with 2-4 inches of mulch. If it is hot weather, the organic covering will break down faster, so you may need to cover at least 4-6 inches.


The outer borders of trees, flower beds, etc. should be slightly higher than the paved covering to avoid the covering from being scattered, washed out by rain and blown out by the wind.

Over time, these organic mulches will gradually break down into the soil and need to be reapplied.