Mulches are loose coverings or sheets of material placed on the surface of cultivated soil. Mulches can be applied to bare soil or to cover the surface of compost in containers.

Depending on the type of mulch used, there are many benefits of mulching including:

Help soils retain moisture in summer

Suppress weeds

Improve soil texture

Deter some pests

Protect plant roots from extreme temperatures

Encourage beneficial soil organisms

Provide a barrier for edible crops coming into contact with soil

Give a decorative finish


Mulches can be split into two main groups; biodegradable and non-biodegradable.


Biodegradable mulches

These break down gradually to release nutrients into the soil and help improve its structure. Layers will need replacing when the material has fully rotted down. Among the best materials are leaf mould, garden compost, spent mushroom compost, wood chippings, processed conifer bark, well rotted manure, straw (for strawberries) and seaweed.


Non-biodegradable mulches do not boost the fertility or structure of the soil, but they do suppress weeds and conserve moisture.