Difference Between Mulch or Soil for Your Pennsylvania Garden

By: | Updated: Aug-2, 2023
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A quick visit to the landscaping supply store, and you’ll find an abundance of bags of mulch and soil. Which one do you need for your landscaping project? Both mulch and soil have valuable uses, but knowing when to use each can help you create an outdoor space that you love.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between mulch and soil, including when to use each material.

What Is the Difference Between Mulch and Soil?

Difference Between Mulch or Soil for Your Pennsylvania Garden

The biggest difference between mulch and soil is that mulch is cultivated by gardeners. Mulch is most commonly used to cover topsoil. Mulch can be made from a variety of materials, including wood chips, sawdust, leaves, or grass clippings. Soil is a natural, smooth material that’s most commonly used to fill plant pots and planters.

The Benefits of Mulch

Mulch can make your garden put more together. Mulch also adds essential nutrients to your plants, which can help them grow. Many homeowners also choose mulch because it can lead to lower maintenance gardening. Good quality soil reduces how quickly water evaporates from the plants, which means you don’t have to water them as frequently.

Mulch also helps prevent soil erosion and protects plants from nearby weeds. Mulch is also a darker color, which can designate a stopping point when doing yard work to avoid damaging your garden. Mulch also does an excellent job of protecting your plants’ roots from extreme temperatures. Some mulch materials may also have nutrient additives, which help your plants grow better. Mulch can be a great option when you live in an area with more unique gardening needs, such as a condo or coop.

The Benefits of Soil

Soil is a necessity for healthy growing plants. Soil acts as a foundation, allowing plants and flowers to root and store nutrients. Soil also assists in preventing flooding, especially during natural disasters. Soil is natural, meaning it can be an affordable option when planting flower beds in your garden. However, purchasing premium-quality soil can provide your plants with a better and more nourishing environment.

Should I Use Soil or Mulch?

Most homeowners will use both soil and mulch. Both offer benefits when planting a wide variety of plants and flowers.

How much and the type of soil or mulch you use depends on your yard’s condition, plants, and average weather conditions. In many cases, it may make sense to use both soil and mulch. You can use soil to plant and fill in holes before then covering the area with mulch. Make sure you don’t over-mulch, so sunlight and moisture can still reach the plant’s roots.

You typically don’t want to use mulch around plants that can spread, like creeping thyme. It’s also usually never a good idea to use mulch to cover up weeds, as it can provide them with nutrients that encourage them to grow even more. You may also not want to use shredded bulk mulch in areas with heavy winds. One of the biggest downsides of mulch is that it does have to be replaced frequently.

You shouldn’t rely primarily on soil if you live in an area with heavy rainfall. Soil easily washes away, which can put your plants at risk of extreme sunlight and heat. Soil also doesn’t limit weed growth, which means you’ll need other techniques in place if weed growth is an issue. Soil can be a cheaper, faster option, but it doesn’t have the same finished appearance as mulch.

How To Choose the Best Soil or Mulch Materials

Most topsoil will work in your garden, but the type of mulch that you choose may affect how well your plants or flowers grow. You have a lot of options available when it comes to choosing the best mulch. A quick search for landscape supply near me can help you find the best company to source your soil and mulch materials. A professional landscaping supply company can also help you choose the best products based on your Pennsylvania home.

Organic versus inorganic mulch is one of your options. Inorganic mulch is made from manmade materials, whereas organic mulch comes from natural materials. A few examples of inorganic mulch include stone, gravel, or plastic. Organic mulch materials may include compost or shredded leaves.

You can also use mulch to change up your yard’s appearance. For example, pine straw mulch is a reddish-brown color, which can help you achieve a farmhouse design. Wood chips or sawdust are available in blacks, browns, or reds and give your yard a more natural design.

Most household gardens need both topsoil and mulch to thrive. First, add the topsoil and then cover with mulch with a maximum of two to three inches.

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