Using Mulch or Decorative rock in Nanaimo, BC

Do I want Mulch or Decorative rock on my planting beds?

Read about the great benefits to different mulch types when it comes to finishing your garden beds in Nanaimo, BC – Bare soil, Bark Mulch. Decorative rock.

Mulch or Bare soil:

  • Pro’s

Soil without any covering is definitely easier to deal with, if you are looking to work your flowers and shrubs regularly. Move plants around or maybe your thinking of having veggies and herbs etc.

  • Cons

The downside to soil is that it tends to dry out faster as well as form a crust which will need to be turned over regularly. It also allows weeds to manifest quite quickly, and once they get going, it can be quite a chore to stay on top of. Although turning over with a Dutch hoe or a rake is quite quick and painless. Personally I find soil around shrubs as a finish to be the least appealing.

Mulch types:

These days, there are a lot of types to choose from, Cedar Nuggets to very fine Mulch. It really depends on your preference and what end vision you have for your property. It can be a great benefit to your gardening areas, if youre not looking to work them regularly, but prefer to dig in your perennials and then sit back and enjoy them.

  • Pro’s

One of the benefits of bark mulch are, it helps to keep moisture around your flowers for longer. Mulch can also keep weeds down . Before adding more each year you can amend the dirt by turning the old product into the ground before putting a new layer on top.

  • Cons

Whilst Mulch is a fantastic overall look to finishing areas, I have found you also have to take watering into consideration. When dry tends to move around when its windy, Large nuggets, not so much, but the Finer type will travel when theres abit of a breeze. To prevent this problem, I have found its best to water from above ie hose, irrigation sprays etc. If you have soaker hoses or drip, then it is going to be migrating onto walkways, lawn etc, mainly because the it mostly stays dry. It may be better to consider using decorative rock for this type of watering application.

Should i use Decorative Rock:

With all the decorative rock choices on the market today, its hard not to find one you will like.

  • Pros

Life will be more weed free for longer. Decorative rock is good for xeriscaping. It doesn’t move to much over time.

  • Cons

This is one of the most expensive options on the market as its charged and delivered by weight. Not a viable option if you like to work in your beds, as moving things around can be quite cumbersome. You will need Fabric on the ground, if you want the rock to be a good weed barrier. Not a good option under coniferous trees and evergreens as it hard to keep clean.


How will mulch on my beds benefit me?

  • Adds curb appeal. 

Mulch instantly adds rich color and a manicured look to your property, along the foundation of your home, around trees and shrubs, and between gardening areas. Colored mulches or extra-fine, do a wonderful job of complementing the hues of both your home and flower gardens.

  • Improves the topsoil. 

Wood blends, like those available from Scotts®, and mulches made from other organic materials improve the topsoil as they break down. Microbes and insects in the ground naturally consume the mulch over time, adding the by-products back to the topsoil in the form of organic matter..

  • Protects against temperature changes. 

It also acts as an insulator, helping to regulate temperature to keep roots cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Mulching is especially important for new plantings done in the fall that are still tender as temperatures begin to plummet.

  • Conserves moisture. 

When you mulch you can spend less time watering. Mulch helps slow moisture evaporation so more water remains in the flowerbeds and available to thirsty plant roots.

  • Helps prevents weeds. 

A 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch naturally helps prevents weeds from sprouting and taking over the area by blocking their growth and access to sunlight.

How to Choose the Right bark mulch for you

Mulches can be made of many different materials—there are wood, rock, and synthetic. To get the benefit of improving the beds (in addition to the rest of the benefits), you’ll want to select a wood variety. A number of blends are made from natural recovered forest materials, not ground-up pallets or construction debris.

When choosing a color, pick a hue that accents or coordinates with your home. Brick houses look great with brown or red mulch. The darker the color, the better brightly colored flowers will stand out in your design. Remember, though, that black products tend to reflect heat, so choose a lighter color if you live in a warm region and are concerned with overheating your plants.

When it comes to sprucing up and improving your plants’ environment in a short period of time, adding mulch is a simple and speedy solution.

Wood Chips, Nuggets, or Bark

Both hardwood and softwood bark, chips, and nuggets—byproducts of the lumber and paper industries—are typically aged and dried, and sometimes even dyed red or black, then sold in bags. Hardwood works best around trees, shrubs, and in planting beds and, while softwood (typically made from pine) should be reserved for use around large trees and shrubs. Pine tends to be slightly more acidic and therefore takes longer to decompose than other organic types.

Where can i get free bark mulch?

Check with your local municipality before you head to the home improvement center; many offer freshly ground tree blends to homeowners at no charge. This fresh material is neither dried or aged, so use it only for walkways, as it leaches large amounts of nitrogen from the soil as it decomposes.

  • Straw

Clean wheat, barley, or oat straw is ideal for lightly covering newly seeded lawns. The straw keeps the grass seed from washing away, deters feeding birds and rodents, and, until it decomposes, conserves the moisture the seeds need for good germination. When you’re shopping for straw, don’t confuse it with hay. You should avoid the latter, which contains seeds that could sprout up as weeds in your garden.

  • Grass Clippings or Shredded Leaves

No need to shop around—you can make your own using nothing more than grass clippings or shredded leaves. Leaf mulch is ideal for use in garden beds and around trees and shrubs, while grass clippings may be spread in thin layers across vegetable and perennial beds and then turned into the soil at the end of the growing season. Be careful not to apply in thick layers, or else the material will mat. Also, don’t save the clippings from lawns that have been treated with herbicides or insecticides.

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