Using Ground Cover as Living Mulch

When it comes to gardening, mulch is a must have, it serves to keep weed growth to a minimum while keeping the plants and soil well insulated. Despite this fact, there are still some very big problems with mulch that can be solved by using ground cover as living mulch. This plant will go over a few of the different plants most commonly used as living mulch as well as list some of the advantages and disadvantages of both conventional mulch and living mulch.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Traditional Mulch

Mulch is an amazing way to keep your garden weed free and well insulated. It provides great cover from the cold while also making sure your plant’s roots don’t get too hot. These reasons make mulch an industry standard when it comes to gardening. Despite these things there are some severe disadvantages to using traditional mulch. If you use a woody form of mulch you are inviting pests such as termites into your garden. Termites may not eat your plants but they will ruin your mulch and possibly bring in other insects or bugs that would eat your plants. Another severe disadvantage to traditional methods of mulching is the fact that you have to keep re-doing it yearly or even bi-yearly. Whenever you want to fertilize, replant or do any other close up work on the ground or roots of your plants you’ll have to pull the mulch up then re-lay it once you are all done doing what you were doing.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Living Mulch

Living mulch means planting ground covering plants around your crop or main plants. These plants are used in the place of mulch and also possess all of the advantages of traditional mulch while also adding extra nutrients for the main plants. Living mulch is also a great way of inviting beneficial insects and bugs into your garden which will ultimately help greatly in keeping your plants healthy and pest and disease free.  One of the main disadvantages of living mulch is that now your main plants have to compete with the mulch for water and nutrients. This is easily solved though with proper watering and care techniques.  One of the largest advantages to living mulch is that, while you may have to trim and cut it you’ll never have to completely replace it, as with traditional mulch.

The Best Plants for Living Mulch

The best plants to use as living mulch often comes down to both your crop and your preference. Some use living mulch for beauty while others use it strictly for the advantages over traditional methods of ground cover. One of the most well received plants to use as ground cover is Thyme. Not only is this a flavorful and edible herb used in many recipes, it works great as mulch. If you’re looking for beauty you may want to consider creeping jenny, which turns different hues of yellow in the sun.

Whatever plant you choose to use as living mulch you will most likely be more satisfied than you would be using traditional mulching methods.