MULCH: from Dear Yard 911 website,
“What is the best mulch?”
This is largely a matter of personal taste, except for cypress mulch! We do not recommend that buying cypress mulch because it often comes from slow-growing cypress trees in natural wetlands. Our swamps need those trees!
Mulch is essential to Gardening Like A Floridian. It retains moisture, keeps soil from getting too hot or too cold, improves sandy soils by adding organic matter, and helps prevent weeds from growing.
Here are some mulches to consider:
FREE Mulch: Who doesn’t love free? This is mulch from tree trimming companies. Call one up and let them know you’d like some mulch if they are going to be in your neighborhood, or just stop by and talk to a crew you see near your home. Giving you the mulch from their tree trimming and removal jobs saves them from paying to dump it at a city or county facility. This mulch won’t look as pretty as the store-bought stuff, but it works just as well and, hey, did we mention it’s FREE!
Likewise, many cities and counties have yard waste sites where they chip brush and trees into mulch that “cooks” in steamy piles to kill any seeds. You can pick up mulch from these places at very low costs.
Pine Bark: A by-product of the timber industry. Nuggets are available in various sizes. Pine bark retains color and stays in place longer than other mulches.
Pine Needles (also called Pine Straw): Collected from managed pine forests and sold in bales. Has a wonderful soft look in a landscape, though not as long-lasting as pine bark. It will add some acidity to your soil over time as it breaks down — a plus for acid-loving plants like gardenias or azaleas!
Melaleuca (sold under the name FloriMulch): Buy this mulch and you will be helping to rid Florida of one of its most invasive plants! Extra eco-credits for you! Melaleuca mulch also helps to repel unwanted pests, like termites.
Eucalyptus: from commercial eucalyptus plantations. Eucalyptus smells good, helps to repel insect pests, and is more durable than pine straw. Sold in chips.
Colored Mulches: Scraps from the paper or wood production process are ground are shredded and dyed red or green. Many people don’t like the colored mulches, because they don’t look as natural as other types. The color also fades fairly quickly.
From the Tampa Bay Estuary Program website.
Additional Resources: Landscape Mulches: What are the choices in Florida?
(University of Florida IFAS)
Mulch (Section of Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Handbook)
Green Thought: “To plant trees is to give body and life to one’s dream of a better world.“
Russell Page in “The Education of a Gardener”