Mulching garden beds have long been a common practice in the United States. But this does leave you with one big question: what should you use as mulch? Many people turn to standard wood chips or shredded wood. There's nothing explicitly wrong with these options as they are affordable, widely available, and safe for the planet. However, there is an alternative worth considering that might even be better in some cases: pine bark mulch. Here are some reasons why pine bark mulch outshines the competition — and some tips for using it.
Benefits of Pine Bark Mulch
Pine bark mulch tends to have a more even consistency than other wood mulches. It usually comes in a shredded texture, and you'll find that most shreds are about the same size since pine bark shreds apart so easily. This gives your garden beds a more even, uniform appearance than you get with other wood mulches.
Another benefit of pine bark mulch is its color. The reddish brown color of pine bark lingers for a lot longer than the dyed color of conventional wood chip mulches. Your garden beds won't "go gray" nearly as fast, so you won't feel the need to top them off as often.
Finally, pine bark mulch does break down relatively quickly thanks to its fine, shredded texture. This means more nutrients for your plants and a reduced need for fertilizer.
Tips for Using Pine Bark Mulch
When spreading pine bark mulch over your garden beds, be generous. Put down an inch or so more than you think you really need. This type of mulch is fluffy when it's new, but it will compact quickly. Plus, if you put down a little more, you won't have to top it off so soon.
Don't spread the mulch on a windy day. It's pretty lightweight compared to other mulches and can easily be blown about when you're trying to spread it. After you spread it, water it down. This helps weigh it down and compact it so it can resist the wind.
Finally, make sure you don't put pine bark mulch directly against your plants' stems or trunks. It holds onto moisture, which can lead to rot if it's directly against plants.
Landscaping pine mulch is a great choice for many garden beds and may be just what your garden needs this season. Give it a try, and follow the tips above as you do so.