What is Mulching? Explanation with Types

There are different processes through which we can protect the crops being produced. There are techniques such as preventing crop disease, using pest control fertilizers, and crop rotation.

But, there is an necessary approach that can protect the crops from being harmed and ensure the proper growth of the plants. This method is known as mulching.

What is Mulching? 

Mulching is a method in which the soils of the crops are covered with certain materials to preserve moisture. The materials used for covering the soils are known as ‘Mulch.’ Although it is done to protect the crops on the fields, this process is beneficial for those who

love gardening at their homes. Mulching is done for fruit trees, vegetables, flowers, and younger saplings. There are many different mulching materials such as grain straw, hay, wood shavings, tree leaves, etc. The benefits of mulching include enhancing the soil’s humus content and improving the quality of the soil.

Different Types of Mulching

There are many ways to do mulching. But, we are going to look at the six types of mulching processes:

Sheet Mulching

This technique does not require any digging through the soil. It works by breaking down the organic materials from the upper layers.

Sheet mulching is used to shift through various surfaces onto the fertile soil for the growth of plants. The application of sheet mulching processes includes applying a bottom layer of decomposable materials such as cardboard or newspapers for killing the current vegetation and stopping the growth of weeds. Sheet mulching can be done in lawns, pavements, rooftops, or an area with low-quality soil. Proper application of this technique will help to promote a balanced ecosystem. The usage of this process improves the health and productivity of the plants. It also reduces the cost of labor and maintenance as it does not require any digging. The soil quality improves and prevents the erosion of soil.

Forestry Mulching

This method uses a single machine to cut, grind and clear vegetation. A brush cutter uses a rotating drum that is connected with steel chipper tools that shred the vegetation into small pieces. Forestry mulching is applicable for the clearance and maintenance of roads, pipelines, and highways. Furthermore, it is also used for commercial and residential clearing and preparing sites. Another function includes the habitat conservation of food, water, shelter, and space for wild animals. It works against those harmful species to the plants and measures the prevention of wildfires. Forestry mulching prevents the use of multiple types of machinery to clear vegetation. It can remove the excess and the unwanted plants that are not required from the soil, thus improving the quality of the soil.

Vertical Mulching

This mulching process is used to improve the soil composition within the root areas of the trees. This technique works by creating machinery with specialized tools across the affected root zones of the trees. Materials like mulch and rich compost are placed onto the holes of the root areas. After that, a layer of fresh mulch is spread over the entire area. It creates cores of topsoil under the roots and the soil areas, thus promoting the growth of the roots. Vertical mulching increases the flow of the water during dry weather. It also decreases the damage of the roots caused due to excess water. This mulching process helps inject the additional organic materials that are important for plant growth. This is helpful for the microorganisms that are helpful for the growth of the plants.

Plastic Mulching

This process is similar to the usage of mulch to suppress weed production and preserve water in crop production. Some plastics also act as barriers to hold methyl bromide, a powerful chemical in the soil. This type of mulching is applicable on vast fields in which much vegetation is produced. The placement of plastics on the soil is done with the help of drip irrigation. The field is made ready, which is similar to a flat seedbed. A bed shaper is used to pull the plastics over the fields to cover the beds. Plastic mulching helps decrease the soil temperature that may help the plants to establish during summer. This mulching does not allow the water to escape from the soil due to evaporation.

Organic Mulching

This mulching technique process is done with the help of living materials. They consist of grasses, straws, leaves, shredded barks, pine needles, or compost. They can decompose naturally onto the ground, promoting the water carrying capacity of the soil. The process for the application of organic mulch is to collect the remains of living organisms on the fields that have been degraded and are broken down into organic matter.

The main functions of organic mulching are to protect the quality of the plants, reduce the erosion of the soils, prevent the soil from crusting, retain the moisture of the soil and control the weed production of the plant production. Organic mulching keeps the soil cooler, especially during the summer season. They improve the soil’s physical and chemical properties and the organic carbon components of the soil. Organic mulches will attract insects and living organisms that live in soil to make space for the water movement to the plants and provide space for proper growth.

Inorganic Mulching

Inorganic mulching consists of synthetic materials such as stones, rocks, plastics, and geotextiles. As they do not decompose easily, they can remain on the soil longer. Their main functions are to stop weed production, provide additional heat for the plants and provide an aesthetic look. Inorganic mulching is also used for volunteering seedlings. Some inorganic materials help in terms of water penetration through the soil. Inorganic mulching helps prevent soil erosion, avoids heavy rainfalls from splashing onto the lower leaves, and saves time and money by reducing water, using fertilizer, and replacing the plants. Inorganic mulching reduces the need for cultivation as the helpful microorganisms will not be disturbed. The microorganisms excrete sticky substances glued to the soil into little crumbs, thus promoting better soil structure. This mulching process helps in keeping a balanced temperature throughout the year. It prevents the compaction of the soil along the walkways of the garden beds.

Does your lawn need detaching or mulching? Mulching lawns are beneficial as they save a lot of time, do not require any labor costs, and improve the soil quality. The best time for mulching is during the spring and summer seasons. The grass clippings will release nutrients for the soil as they are broken down. They provide nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous that are necessary for plant production.

Which tools/machinery do you need for mulching? Rakes are one of the useful tools for spreading mulch.

Wheelbarrows are good options for moving the mulch anywhere. Shovels can spread mulch evenly on the soil so that none of

the areas is left without any mulch. Pitchforks can be used to move the loose mulch to spread around the garden soils.

Bottom Line

The uses of mulching are many. They help enrich the soil’s nutrients, stop weed production on the soils, control soil erosion, and much more.

Mulching also improves the aesthetic and appealing look of the landscapes and raises the economic value of crops produced. The soil will withhold nutrients that can be re-used for plant vegetation multiple times.