Everything you ever needed to know about mulch

Using mulch is one of the best ways to grow and maintain a healthy garden. It protects plants, improves soil and encourages growth. Here’s everything you need to know to choose the right mulch for your garden.

What is mulch?

Mulch is any material you use to cover the surface of your soil around plants. It keeps the moisture in, stops nutrients from washing away, maintains even soil temperature, and blocks out sunlight to prevent weed growth.

Types of mulch

There are many different mulches, both organic and inorganic. Organic mulches include leaves, grass clippings, bark and straw. Being natural, they decompose over time to add nutrients to the soil but often need topping up. While inorganic mulches such as gravel, pebbles, black plastic, landscape fabrics and even old newspaper are longer lasting but don’t contribute directly to the soil.

Organic mulches

You’ll find plenty of mulches on the market but you can also use natural garden wastes. Some work better than others do, so it’s important to know a bit about the different types to help you choose what’s best for your garden.

Straw is a great mulch for vegetable gardens. It decomposes quickly and improves the soil as it decays to help you grow a bumper crop of vegies.

Sugar Cane mulch is made from dried sugar cane leaves. It provides an attractive finish in garden beds that also encourages helpful soil organisms.

Pine bark is great for garden beds and pots. It’s dark natural colour blends in with the soil and looks great in any garden.

Coir is fibre from the outer husk of coconuts. A more decorative mulch, you can get it in concentrated blocks, which quickly expand when you add water.

Hard wood mulch is great for suppressing weeds. It looks good and takes a while to decompose so you don’t have to replace it as often.

Lucerne mulch has the added advantage of giving your soil extra nitrogen as it breaks down. It’s ideal for roses, flowers, vegetables and fruit trees.

Woodchips are not only great for mulch but also make an attractive feature in your garden. Putting down a 4–6cm layer provides good weed control.

Grass clippings are great for growing a lush green lawn. After mowing, it’s best to dry out your clippings and then add a 6cm layer over your lawn.

Leaves lying around in your garden can be gathered up and used as mulch. You should shred them first because whole leaves often blow away. 

Inorganic mulches

While they don’t offer the same soil fertility as organic mulch, synthetic mulches are the best soil insulators because they don’t break down. They keep soil warmer for longer, promoting helpful bacteria and can sometimes extend the growth period of your plants. 

Gravel and pebbles are permanent and best used for foundation plants. They make an appealing design feature that you can enjoy year after year. 

Black plastic or weedmat is most effective as weed control. However, it can break down in sunlight so it’s best to bury the plastic under your soil so that it lasts longer. It’s also a good idea to cut out some holes for water drainage. 

Landscape fabrics work the same way as plastic but let air and water through better. For best results, add another 6-8cm of organic mulch over the top. 

Old newspaper can be recycled as mulch. Place it down in 10-page layers and throw on some organic mulch like straw to stop it blowing away. The newspaper keeps weeds down and makes the straw last longer.

Cherry Plant

Planting & Growing How to plant and grow a cherry tree Sweet or sour, cherries are a popular summer treat around the world. Lovely and narrow, the cherry tree is suited to areas with cold winters, creating a stunning display of blossom in spring followed by the much-loved fruit.

plant pots

Planting & Growing How to grow and care for indoor plants For people unable to garden outdoors, growing indoor plants allows them to indulge in a hobby that gives great pleasure.

bird of paradise plant

Planting & Growing How to grow and prune a bird of paradise Hardy, easy to grow and architecturally dramatic with some of the most stunning and bizarre flowers you will ever see—that’s the awesome bird of paradise.

Apple Tree

Planting & Growing How to grow and prune an apple tree Nothing beats the crunch and taste of a fresh apple. So why not grow your own? An apple tree can be so much more than just a fruit tree.

basil

Planting & Growing How to plant grow and harvest basil An attractive garden plant that’s easy to grow and is an essential ingredient in a multitude of dishes. That’s basil!

Bougainvillea

Planting & Growing How to plant grow and prune bougainvillea If you’re looking for a plant with vibrant colours to bring a tropical look to your garden, then you can’t go past bougainvillea. Find out how to grow Bougainvillea's with this handy guide from bunnings warehouse.

How to design a herb garden 01:23

Planting & Growing How to design a herb garden Turn your back or front yard into a beautiful, productive space by creating an edible garden that looks good and will tastes even better. For this project, we’re grouping our herbs into three pots – one for tea, one for smoothies and one for cocktai...

Choose a sunny spot and watch 01:40

Planting & Growing How to grow strawberries You’ll love the taste of home-grown strawberries. It’s a great activity the whole family will have fun doing.

hydrangea

Planting & Growing How to create an allergy-friendly garden If you suffer from hay fever or other allergies, then being out in the garden can, at times, be less than enjoyable. But there are some steps you can take to create an allergy-friendly garden so you can spend more time gardening and less time sneezi...

pallet coffee table

Outdoor Living Five D.I.Y. ideas to update your outdoors Autumn is a great time of the year to tick off a few D.I.Y. projects from your to-do list. Here are a few good ideas to get you started.

pot

Planters How to choose the right plant pot Pots are a great way to add colour, interest or texture to your outdoor space. Tuscan Path’s Elaine Foster shares her top tips on how to choose the perfect pot.

sunflower

Planting & Growing How to plant and care for sunflowers Sunflowers are a great way to add colour to your garden, and they’re easy to grow and care for. Bunnings Greenlife buyer Katie explains the basics of how to grow sunflowers and shares some tips on how to care for them.

orchid

Planting & Growing How to care for orchids Orchids are a low-maintenance flower that can be grown indoors or outside in a protected location. And, with a little care, they will provide you with lots of colour.

paint

Guides & Projects How to upcycle almost any piece of furniture with paint Rather than throwing out old household items, you can restore them with paint. It’s a quick, easy and affordable way to give anything from furniture to fences a new lease on life. Learn how to paint and prepare different surfaces to get the finish y...

DIY balcony and courtyard garden

Planters D.I.Y. balcony and courtyard garden Even if your outdoor space is limited to a balcony or courtyard, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on having a garden. The team at Tuscan Path, who have been supplying pots to the Australian marketplace for over 40 years, share some ideas on how ...

 kitchen benchtop materials

Benchtops & Cabinets A guide to kitchen benchtop materials The perfect benchtop will add style to any kitchen. It’ll also see the most action, so choosing the right benchtop for your kitchen – and budget – is an important decision explains Bunnings Kitchen Designer Ben Carey.

Top of the content