Sunday, September 16, 2012

Got it covered

Oh what a difference mulch makes! We've all been indoctrinated in recent decades to value mulch for its ability to disappoint weeds and to keep the soil moisture where it's needed around the plant roots, but today I looked back on a couple of hours of mulching (after a lot of planting) and the thing that really hit me was how much better a garden looks with a fresh layer of mulch. It hides all sorts of blemishes. And down at the landscape supply place it's clear that there's a couple of dozen different mulches to choose from. It actually took me a while to decide, too.

In the foreground, a fresh layer of fine
pine bark mulch around the purple patch
of lavenders and tibouchinas. Much better
looking than plain, dark brown earth. In the
background, the succulents' pebbly cover.

All the vegie/salad/herb beds are mulched with straw.
It's a nice farmyard look on the day it's laid down,
but this stuff breaks down fast, so it'll need topping
up in a month or so. No worries with that, as I keep a
big bag of sugar cane mulch in the shed for this routine
job, but that bag of mulch also comes in handy as a
magic ingredient in making compost. Every few days I
spin the compost tumbler bin, like a good boy should,
but before I do I add a very generous handful of straw
to the bin, which is mostly full of wet vegie/fruit scraps.
The dry straw balances out the wet-dry mixture, and
ever since I started this habit several years ago,
the quality of my compost improved enormously. 

This is just my excuse to run another photo of my pebbly
little succulent patch. All seems well here, in fact I am
sure some of them are showing signs of growth already.

I've used the fine pine bark mulch around
today's plantings of Lomandra 'Tanika'
(the low grass in front) and the Tiger
Grass behind. This 'Tanika' stuff is evergreen
so it doesn't go through a crappy looking
phase each year. It's almost indestructible,
and is often seen in traffic islands and other
very inhospitable spots. I want my garden to be
much lower maintenance, and I'm hoping that
the Tanika, backed by the bamboo-like tiger
grass, will be the least of my worries over
the coming months and years. Time will tell
whether this works or not. It almost feels like
cheating or laziness to plant Tanika – heck, we
keen gardeners are meant to take on impossible
challenges! Well, this keen little gardener with a
dodgy back is simply hoping for a lighter workload. 
I think I've got off track in this post... where was I? Oh that's right, mulch! Without me thinking about this fact too consciously, it has worked out that a key part of the design for this little backyard makeover is that it's the mulch which defines the various beds. Pebbles for succulents, straw for food plants, and the foliage-only and flowering plants are mulched with fine pine bark. Works for me.


Lithopsland said...

Great post about the different types of mulches and their uses Jamie. The succulent patch looks awesome, and that Faucaria is a fine specimen! Happy planting. :)

Lanie at Edible Urban Garden said...

Wow - look at your garden transformation! It looks great. I love the way gardens can completely change from one year to the next. And I agree, mulching makes a huge difference (practically and aesthetically).