Mulch not only adds character to your landscaping, it also protects the plants root systems and feeds useful nutrients to the soil. This process will slow down the erosion of the topsoil. Soil born diseases that can splash up on your plants as you are watering will be greatly deterred by using mulch. Just one layer of mulch can protect your plants from these potential diseases spreading back splashes. It's also beneficial in container gardening.
There are a wide range of mulches that you can use. I prefer to use organic mulch because while it breaks down it releases nutrients to feed the soil and aids the fertilizer. There are many types of mulch such as, stone, wood varieties, rubber (which is great under a playground), plastic, and even glass. Choosing the right mulch depends on where you need your mulch and what purpose it will be providing for you. Be warned about using light stone or wood chips under your plants.They will reflect the heat from the sun and scorch the bottom of your plants. You can find a number of inorganic mulches in garden centers that are aesthetically appealing but are man-made and have nothing to contribute to the soil.
"Strulch" is product I have become enamored with. This is a garden mulch made from wheat straws. It is a patented process to preserve the straw to last longer (up to 2 years) and has an earthy brown color. You will weed less as it reduces weed growth up to 95%, and can save on water due to its ability to retain moisture. Since this breaks down slowly it continually adds nutrients to the soil. Strulch can be used all around the garden, from flowers to shrubs to your delicate veggies. Now, when you spread your mulch, don't put it too close to your plants as it can cause stem rot. Use your rake to pull it away if necessary.
As you can see mulch is a very important part of my gardens. It will improve the appearance of a garden or landscape as well as aid in the health of the plants. Adding mulch sometimes feels too much like hard work, but it will save you time and effort throughout the season. Choosing the right mulch for your garden is important and your local hardware store or nursery can give you great advice on the perfect mulch for your needs.