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A protective cover for the garden floor

If you want to enhance your garden visually, you can cover your beds with mulch. Of course, mulching is not just about the aesthetics, but also about the practical benefits: it also improves soil quality and has a very positive influence on plant growth.
The word "mulching" comes from the Middle High German "molwic" and means something like "soft, soften". In summer, these soft - and sometimes hard - floor coverings cool the bedding and walkway surfaces, protect against dehydration and often reduce weed growth, depending on the material. In winter, they keep the soil warm and protect the plants from frost.

Overview of mulch materials

Depending on the material, the mulch can have a very different effect and by no means every material is suitable for every purpose. Here we present you a small selection.

Picture gallery: Organic mulch material

Mulch wood chop

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Mulch: soil

Mulch: soil

Mulch: bark


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Organic mulch

Mulch: soil

Wood chaff can contain tannins that are germ-inhibiting. Therefore, do not use in the vegetable garden, as well as bark mulch

Mulch: mulch

Colored wood chisels (wood decor) are treated with harmless dyes. Heartwood is used, which decomposes more slowly than bark. However, the colors fade over time

Mulch: layer

Pine bark looks attractive, is durable and contains many tannins that inhibit weeds

Mulch: plants

Bark mulch consists of the bark of different softwoods and is cheaper than pure pine bark

Mulch: layer

Bark humus (bark compost) is already slightly decomposed and therefore hardly extracts nitrogen from the soil

Mulch: mulch

Straw dries quickly and is a good base for strawberries, for example, to keep the fruits clean

Mulch wood chop

Mulch colored wood chop

Mulch pine bark

Mulch bark mulch

Mulch bark humus

Mulch straw


Bark mulch offers a beautiful sight on paths and under trees and shrubs. It is suitable for all semi-shade and shadow shrubs as well as for ferns and shade grasses. Bark mulch is a mixture of bark of various coniferous and deciduous trees. It is available either natural brown or colored in red. Unfortunately, he is also one of the favorite places of the snails. Use only quality mulch in coarse screening. High quality bark mulch can be recognized by the resinous smell. If he smells acidic of methanol or sulfurous, then decay processes have taken place. This means that the oxygen in the material has been used up and acid has formed. This leads to growth restrictions or death in many plants. You can also ensure that the mulch cover is well ventilated by raking it every few weeks.

Bark mulch red

With red-colored bark mulch, looped paths can be beautifully emphasized

Composted bark

Composted softwood bark is more compatible with many plants because it does not bind as much nitrogen as fresh bark mulch. It can be used as a ground cover as well as for soil loosening.


When pruning is often in the garden a lot of clippings. If you chop it with a shredder, it can be used well as a mulch material. Due to the high, very low-nitrogen wood content, the shredded mulch can lead to a strong nitrogen depletion in the soil. If you mulch beds with them, you should first fertilize them with horn shavings.


This exclusive mulch material made of crushed miscanthus is suitable for all plants and as a roadway. Neither snails nor weeds like the hard, sharp-edged stalk shavings of this grass, which also grows as ornamental grass in many gardens. You can apply it three to five inches thick. Disadvantage: This is rarely available, you have to make it mostly from the cropped in the spring stalks themselves.


Straw can be spread well on paths in the vegetable garden and among strawberries, sweetcorn, cucumbers, courgettes and tomatoes. It promotes aeration, but also fixes the nitrogen in the soil - so it should be well supplied with this nutrient before. Strawberry ripening strawberries stay clean and are not prone to snail and gray mold. If possible, do not use straw in the kitchen garden that has been treated with so-called half-shorteners. These are chemicals that are partly used in agriculture to increase the stability of the blades in wind and rain.

straw mulch

Clean thing: straw mulch suppresses the weed growth between the vegetable crops

pine bark

The bark of the pine (Pinus pinea), a native of Southern Europe pine, is very attractive with its reddish brown color on paths and under trees and shrubs. Pine bark mulch decomposes slowly and does not smell as sour as traditional bark mulch. In addition, the pine bark is a good nutrient, improves the soil structure and inhibits the germination of weed seeds.Also for potted plants is pine bark.

grass clippings

Grass clippings are easy to apply to all plants and enrich the soil with nitrogen and potassium. First let the grass clippings lightly dry and bring it out just very thin, otherwise there is a risk of rot. It is important that the lawn is regularly mowed and contains only a few weeds such as dandelion. For better ventilation, you can also mix the grass clippings with wood chaff.

Mulching rhododendron with grass clippings

Dried grass clippings are suitable as mulch material

vegetable residues

Anything left over from the vegetable crop, such as cabbage leaves or potato leaves, is suitable for mulching other vegetable crops. So the unused nutrients are returned to the ground. Use only healthy and pest-free material.

Nettles or comfrey

Dried stinging nettles and comfrey leaves are great for cucumbers, tomatoes or beans. They protect the soil and enrich it with valuable minerals during decomposition. Since they rot very quickly, but you often have to mimic. You can apply the layer up to ten centimeters thick.

Green manures

Buckwheat, veal peas and summer vetch can be used well as a mulch for a variety of vegetable crops, as many green manure plants are rich in nutrients. They also enrich the soil with valuable humus. Allow the freshly cut green manure plants to dry slightly before mulching so that they do not rot. Since the plants usually rot quite quickly, one must renew the layer occasionally.

Picture gallery: Mineral mulch material

Mulch lava

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Mulch: layer

Mulch: bark

Mulch: layer


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Mineral mulch

Mulch: soil

Lava looks appealing and releases valuable nutrients in small quantities

Mulch: soil

Shells make a nice print and snails do not like the sharp edges. Can not get yourself on the beach which, mulching larger areas but expensive

Mulch: layer

Slate quarrying and other special types of rock are most beneficial if you can get them at the quarry or gravel in the area

Mulch: mulch

Gravel has sharp edges, making it a more stable layer than gravel

Mulch: bark

Gravel is ground round, it gives it like grit in different grains. As a mulch, the size of 8 to 16 millimeters is best

Mulch: soil

Monochromatic mixtures, such as white gravel, are also available

Mulch lava

Mulch shells

Mulch slate quarry

Mulch grit

Mulch gravel

Mulch of white gravel

River gravel or grit

Pebbles can be used well for dry locations such as rock gardens, but also between shrubs and woody plants. The gravel layer stores heat, is permeable to water and air and, above all, durable. Over time, however, it can interfere with the upper soil layer and also suppresses the weed only to a limited extent. The gravel also keeps badly on slopes. Apply gravel or grit a maximum of five inches thick.

Pebbles edelweiss

Mountain plants such as edelweiss feel very well in a permeable, heat-storing stone layer

Effect of mulch

A mulch layer protects the soil from the effects of the weather, because it has a temperature-balancing and moisture-regulating effect. The solar heat causes strong temperature fluctuations and can lead to overheating of the soil. Evaporation of soil water can cause dry cracks on loamy soils. The rainwater is then poorly absorbed and flows to a large extent superficially. Wet loamy soil, on the other hand, is easily silted up.
At the same time, an organic mulch layer slowly decomposes and enriches the soil with humus, which is recognized by the darker color of the earth. Soil life is encouraged and the soil is better accessed by the roots.

Milk impact

The effects of mulch on the growth of a plant. Left with a mulch layer, right without mulch

Vegetables and fruits can also be mulched - but not all materials are suitable for that. In the vegetable garden especially mulch paper and decomposable black mulch foil from corn starch are recommended. Mulch paper will last for up to three months, and the remnants of the more durable film can be composted as needed after harvest. In addition to the weed suppression, the higher soil temperature also plays a role: heat-loving plants such as tomatoes or cucumbers bring significantly better yields. Strawberries are often mown with straw - but only after flowering, to keep the fruit as dry as possible and thus prevent gray mold infestation. The fresh, dry straw is also a good snail guards, because the greedy reptiles do not feel very well.

Natural weed protection

Pine bark contains a lot of tannic acid, which inhibits the germination of seed weeds. It is important that the soil before mulching thoroughly from root weeds such as greed and Wheatgrass, otherwise they would sooner or later grow through the layer and then be difficult to remove. As weed protection you should apply coarsely chopped bark at least seven to ten centimeters thick. With fine bark mulch, the layer may only be about half as thick as otherwise the oxygen exchange of the soil may be hindered.Sporadically weed seeds germinate with progressive decomposition. However, you can keep the growth well in check by regularly plucking and renewing or supplementing the mulch layer.

Weed mulch

From time to time, the mulch cover should be cleaned by breaking weeds

Pay attention to good nutrition

Mulch materials such as bark or wood chaff contain much pulp, but hardly minerals or nitrogen. In the decomposition of the mulch layer, the microorganisms bind many of the nutrients present in the soil. Occasionally, therefore, the mulched plants lack nutrients, especially nitrogen. A lack of yellow leaves and weak growth. To prevent this problem, you should apply 40 to 80 grams of horn shavings per square meter before mulching and work flat in the soil. If you need to re-fertilize the plants after mulching, first rake the mulch in the root area and then take out the fertilizer. Then cover the floor again.

Not all plants like bark mulch

Which plants can tolerate a soil cover from bark mulch, can be well derived from the site claims: species that grow in partial shade or shade, have usually no problem with a mulch layer. The reason: their natural location is the forest or the edge of the forest, where due to the regular fall of leaves in the fall always a natural soil cover is present. So you can easily mulch all penumbra and shade perennials as well as ferns and shade grasses. Also all rhododendrons and other, larger trees get along well with a layer of mulch. Roses, however, love sunny locations and open soils. If you still want to cover the soil in your rosary, you should use bark compost and avoid the narrower root area. The same applies to bedding plants and most rock garden plants.

Video Board: How to Mulch a Garden Bed.

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