May 24, 2010
Mulch is a huge component of most gardens where our vacation home is. The reason being as with anytime you use mulch is to control moisture evapouration and keep the moisture where you want it in the gardens. Mulch serves to help keep weeds under control as well however some mulches are problematic for certain applications and location. For that reason a mulch should always be chosen based on how it performs in your particular location ensuring it is not creating more of a problem than it solves. In some locations wood mulches should be avoided because they attract centipedes, millipedes, pill bugs and earwing. In these same locations in the shady spots a wood mulch may also encourage moulding.
In my home gardens in Zone 6A Ontario, Canada wood mulch is used mainly by those who do not realize the problems wood mulch can create especially close to the house. The problem is by the time you realize wood mulch around the perimeter of you house in this area the damage is already done so not only do you have to remove the wood mulch you have to do insect control and damage control. Wood mulch decays over time so it does attract all of the insects that feed on decaying vegetation matter. In this zone wood mulch works nicely providing it is kept a good 6' from the house foundation making it suitable for mulching around trees and flower beds not close to the house.
The gardens at our vacation home in Zone 9A USA differ in that wood mulch works nicely to keep the moisture in the soil but from what I've seen does not cause the insect problems common to northern regions. The garden beds were already mulched but as mentioned previously needed topping up. My husband picked up 6 bags of red wood chip mulch to dress the front bed. I think the top dressing looks quite nice. We ran out of both time and energy so did not mulch around the rest of the house so that is on next trip's agenda.