Choosing Container Mulches

Choosing the right mulch is just as important as selecting the right plant or container. But with so many now on the market, how do you know which one best suits your needs? Use these tips to make the right choice.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

What Is Mulch?

Mulch is a layer of gravel or other material that helps lock moisture into the soil and reduces evaporation. It can also be decorative. Gritty mulches deter slugs and snails.

Tip for Success

In spring, after watering, scatter a thick layer of mulch evenly on the soil. Never compact or pile mulch up around the stem.

Chipped Bark

Best used around shrubs and woodland plants, such as camellias, magnolias, palms, and rhododendrons. Ideal for wooden barrels. If there’s a large, bare surface area, bark will help prevent weed seeds from germinating in the soil.

Gravel

Available in different sizes and colors, gravel has a high aesthetic value, and guarantees efficient surface drainage. It helps to deter slugs and snails, and a thick layer will help retain moisture. Best for Mediterranean-style plants, alpines, and hostas.

Pebbles

A large-scale version of gravel, also available in different sizes and colors, pebbles suit large seaside plants, and Asian-style and contemporary plantings in shiny metal containers. Best for bamboos, cordylines, grasses, and sedges.

Seashells

Best for variety of shape, size, and color (from white to pink). Shells are ideal for grasses, lilyturf (Ophiopogon), and Skimmia japonica 'Rubella'. If shells are in limited supply, place them on top of a layer of pebbles.

Crushed Glass

This popular innovation, which is perfectly safe to handle, comes in various colors, and is ideal for modern schemes. Use with a sculptural plant, where nothing else detracts from the effect. Best for bamboos, dwarf palms, and yuccas.

Recycled Materials

Increasing numbers of recycled materials are coming onto the market, like computer screens scrunched into tiny colored pieces, or crushed shells, a waste product from the seafood industry. Best for modern schemes.