A good quality mulch is one of the most versatile tools available to the avid gardener, and can be used on a wide variety of soils to improve the growth and health of the plants and seeds growing in it. However, few soil types benefit from a good mulching as much as dry, sandy soils, and covering them with a suitable mulch can turn your brown, wilting flowers and vegetables into tall, strong botanical marvels.
Why should I use mulch on sandy soils?
Soils that contain a high quantity of sand can actually be rather useful in some circumstances; since they are not as absorbent as other soils, and have excellent drainage characteristics, they can be very beneficial for plants are vulnerable to root rot caused by excess moisture. However, these properties also make sandy soils extremely vulnerable to droughts, and the speed with which water passes through them tends to flush away vital nutrients your plants need to thrive.
Covering your sandy soil with a layer of mulch combats these shortcomings in two ways. Firstly, a layer of absorbent mulch can retain large amounts of water that would otherwise pass through the soil before your plants could benefit from it fully (a layer of damp mulch also helps keep your plants cool during hot weather). Secondly, the natural breakdown of organic mulches adds gradually adds carbon and organic matter to the soil, providing an extra source of nutrients for your plants while also aiding the retention of nutrients already present in the untreated soil.
So what type of mulch should I use on sandy soil?
To provide maximum benefit, the mulch you use on sandy soils should be organic. It must also be capable of absorbing large quantities of water and retaining that water during dry, hot weather. This rules out some lesser-used mulching options such as plastic sheeting and rock mulch, and you will see far more success if you use one or more of the following mulching options:
The classic mulching choice, wood chips are useful for sandy soils as they are capable of retaining large amounts of moisture. While they decompose over time to add nutrients to the soil, they degrade much more slowly than other mulch options, and can last several years if well-maintained and kept sheltered from high winds. Wood chip mulches made partially or entirely out of tree bark are particularly effective due to the increased amount of water they can absorb.
A very traditional choice of mulch, straw can retain large quantities of water and provides a significant amount of fresh nutrients to your soil as it decomposes. This decomposition process happens rather rapidly, which can be a double-edged sword; while new nutrients are added to your sandy soils more quickly, the straw must also be replaced more regularly than wood chips.
Many of the sandiest soils are found in coastal areas, but these areas are also rich in one of the most effective choices for mulching sandy soils; seaweed. Extremely rich in nutrients, seaweed is particularly prized by vegetable farmers for promoting rapid growth, and its rubbery texture is particularly useful for shading young shoots and seeds from excessive heat and sunlight. Just make sure to rinse it thorough if you collect it yourself, or it can add large amounts of salt to your soil which can cause significant damage.
For more information, contact companies like Family Tree Care Pty Ltd.