May 3, 2009–Today’s Way: If you garden, or even if you take a rudimentary interest in your yard, you might want to consider the labor and water saving benefits of mulching.  Mulches such as wood chips and bark not only make an attractive complement to the flowers or foliage above them, but they are a natural weed control, enrich the soil as they break down over time, encourage beneficial earthworms and other soil amending insects and of course, mulches conserve water by trapping moisture that would otherwise evaporate quickly in hot, sunny weather. Mulching is a great idea for trees, shrubs, flower beds and even vegetable gardens.  You can make your own mulch from grass clippings, or depending on where you live, you may even have access to exotic mulches made from coconut fiber, buckwheat hulls or pine needles, though you must be careful with pine because it acidifies the soil (which some plants love, but others do not).  Gravel works as a mulch as well, though it does not break down over time the way that organic matter does.  However, it’s a great water conservation option for drought-prone areas.

And if it’s not just about keeping up appearances, you can mulch with ordinary materials like newspaper and cardboard–we like to use both in our vegetable garden between plots and rows to keep weeds down and retain moisture.  Newspaper and cardboard naturally break down into compost over time, but in the meantime, it also helps to keep our feet drier and cleaner in the garden.

For more mulching information, visit this site, or this one.  Your plants will thank you very mulch!