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.

Excerpted from Simple Steps: Containers for Patios
  • Gravel Mulch is Decorative and Functional

    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.

  • Spread Mulch in Spring

    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 is Best for Shrubs

    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.

  • Simple and Effective Gravel Mulch


    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.

  • Using Pebbles in Plant Containers


    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.

  • Seashell Mulch Provides Vibrant Color


    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.

  • Safe Crushed Glass Mulch

    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 Mulch is Green Alternative for Plants

    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.

Excerpted from Simple Steps: Containers for Patios

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