There are a ton of different kinds of mulches. It can be hard to know what kind to choose for your garden. One of the most popular types of mulch is cedar. In this article, you’ll learn all about the benefits of cedar mulch!
So why does cedar mulch work so well in our gardens? What are some appropriate uses, and maybe more importantly, when should we avoid using it? Let’s get into everything a gardener should know about cedar mulch and its potential applications.
What is Cedar Mulch?
Cedar mulch is made from cedar trees. They are either chipped or shredded to create a mulch-like texture. Other typical materials used to make mulch are bark or wood chips. In the US, cedars are ubiquitous evergreen trees that thrive in USDA zones 7 to 9. However, you can find cedar mulch in any of the USDA zones.
Cedar is a high-quality wood that is popular for many pieces of furniture. It smells great and repels insects naturally! That’s one of the benefits of using cedar mulch!
I use cedar wood in my closet to keep my clothes smelling fresh. It seriously works! I recommend this one, but any cedar wood should work!
Why Use Cedar Mulch?
There are many uses for cedar mulch, both practical and decorative. It is most frequently used for weed control, soil insulating, improving the appearance of beds, and insect repelling. The application of cedar mulch is the same regardless of the purpose.
On the top of your soil, apply a level layer of cedar mulch, typically 3 inches tall. The greatest place to put cedar chippings is around the base of big shrubs and trees because they tend to be heavier. If you’re using it around smaller plants or flowers, I recommend using something that has a more delicate texture and is lighter in weight.
Leave a space around the exterior of the trunk when mulching around the stems of shrubs or the trunks of trees to prevent it from touching the tree. Mulch applied directly to the stem or trunk of a plant can cause it to rot. It can also restrict airflow to the trunk, leading to disease.
Benefits of Cedar Mulch
Cedar mulch works well to improve a soil’s capacity to hold onto moisture. It creates a physical barrier between soil and air which reduces moisture evaporation. Controlling the soil’s temperature also aids in improving moisture retention by preventing water from evaporating.
Another factor that contributes to moisture loss is wind. A layer of mulch shields the soil from any wind. For a variety of reasons, having soil that retains moisture is advantageous. Since the soil won’t dry up as soon as it would without mulching, you won’t need to water your plants as frequently.
As a result, you’ll have a lower water bill, and since less water is being wasted, the environment will benefit.
All gardeners detest weeds. You can spend less time weeding and more time enjoying your garden by using cedar mulch to help suppress weed development. There are several ways the mulch stops weeds from establishing themselves. First, the mulch physically shields the soil, preventing weed seeds from penetrating the earth’s surface. The mulch also serves as a light barrier, shielding the soil from sunlight.
Since most seeds can’t germinate without light, weeds won’t grow fully under mulch.
Insulates the Soil
The insulation provided by cedar mulch keeps the soil warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This is advantageous for plant development and general health, especially if you reside in an area with strong seasons. Your plants will have a more consistent climate all year round, thanks to the temperature regulation provided by cedar mulch.
Most plants don’t like their roots to become overheated in the summer. Cedar mulch can helps with root temperature by shading the soil and lowering its temperature. In the winter it does the same and insulates the soil temperature while reducing snowfall.
Can be Used for Design
Cedar mulch has the added benefit of enhancing the aesthetics of flowerbeds and border areas. Although cedar wood can come in various colors, it typically has a red or orange undertone that contrasts wonderfully with green foliage. Additionally, it offers a garden a uniform appearance. Cedar mulch also smells delicious!
Keeps Bugs Away
Cedar wood is inherently insect-repellent. It’s a popular choice for bedroom furniture since it resists mite infections. The mulch can also function as a natural insecticide. It is excellent if you have an insect problem in your garden or attempt to prevent pest problems.
The last benefit of cedar mulch is how durable it is! If you use cedar mulch to top coat your soil, it won’t need to be replaced for a long time. Other mulches, such as straw or grass clippings, decompose far more quickly and require yearly replacement.
Cedar mulch is a reliable choice if you like to spend money on more durable gardening solutions. In addition, cedar mulch distributes nutrients into the soil when it decomposes.
Disadvantages of Cedar Mulch
Bad for Allergies
Cedar mulch should not be used if you or anyone in your social circle has an allergy. Although most people find the smell it emits pleasant, some people are hypersensitive to odors and may experience an allergic reaction. The rising awareness of this issue has led to a scent-free policy being implemented in several workplaces.
People who are sensitive to the smell of cedar mulch may react by sneezing, having watery eyes, running noses, and experiencing skin irritations.
Your soil’s pH level might be impacted by cedar mulch. It is advisable to avoid using cedar mulch if your soil is already acidic! If fresh cedar mulch is used, it can leak very little acid into the soil, which typically won’t pose a problem and won’t make a detectable difference.
Takes Nitrogen From Plants
During its breakdown, cedar mulch is known to remove nitrogen from the soil. This occurs with all woody plants and can lower the nitrogen levels in the soil, preventing the plant from receiving the nutrients it needs to survive and flourish.
Only the soil directly in contact with the mulch, usually the topmost layer, is impacted. If this is the case, cedar mulch won’t be an issue because it won’t affect the nitrogen levels deep in the soil, where the roots of the plants are located. The only exception is if the mulch is incorporated into the soil layers, which may negatively affect nitrogen levels close to roots.
Use cedar mulch solely around perennial plants to avoid this situation. Use caution when using it near vegetable plants because tilling the soil will cause the mulch to sink deeply into the ground. You can also add nitrogen-rich fertilizer to the soil as a precaution to help even out any differences.
Kills Beneficial Bugs
Although cedar mulch has the desirable property of being a natural insecticide, utilizing it will, regrettably, prevent both beneficial insects from settling among your plants as well as pests from establishing a camp in your garden.
Beneficial bugs have several advantages, including pollination of your plants to promote the growth of flowers or fruits, which helps to naturally reduce the population of pests in the garden. Ladybirds, hoverflies, butterflies, moths, bees, and parasitic wasps are examples of beneficial insects. They consume or lay their eggs in or on a variety of garden pests, including aphids, to control them.
Choose a different kind of mulch that doesn’t contain cedar if you’re particularly interested in attracting beneficial insects to your garden.
Compared to other kinds of wood mulch, cedar mulch is slightly more expensive to purchase. Even though the difference in price per bag might be negligible, if you have a significant area to cover, it could mount up quickly. Cedar mulch won’t be the most cost-effective choice if you’re trying to keep expenses low.
Instead, you might choose a more affordable type of wood mulch or utilize a completely free one. You can save up grass cuttings from mowing your own lawn or ask your neighbor if you can use their grass cuttings because they are frequently utilized as mulch. You would save money by choosing this choice, reducing the amount of rubbish that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
For garden soil, there are many benefits of using cedar mulch. It’s understandably well-liked and frequently used. When you consider how beautiful and durable it is, moisture retention and soil temperature regulation are among its most significant uses.
Before choosing to use cedar mulch, there are some scenarios in which it is not the ideal choice. You should think about these and apply them to your personal case. It is generally trouble-free and has much more advantages than disadvantages.