Move Over Mulch
Making a Case for Swapping Mulch With Groundcover Plants
We’ve all heard the countless benefits of adding mulch to your garden. While we would agree that mulch certainly has its place in the garden—we’d like to share some of the even greater benefits to utilizing ground cover plants in their place. Not only do they reduce erosion and moisture evaporation, but they will boost your soil’s health, are a more environmentally friendly option than mulch, and they provide habitat and encourage beneficial organisms.
We know how tempting it can be when you walk into a garden center to be attracted to the big, beautiful, attention-grabbing plants, but we would highly encourage you to give the little guys a chance too.
Benefits of Using Groundcover Plants in Your Orange County Garden
Low-spreading groundcover plants are often quite hardy, relatively easy to grow, and the flowering varieties bring a unique beauty of their own to any garden they grace. But those aren’t the only reasons we love groundcover plants.
Groundcovers Help Out Local Wildlife
Spreading groundcover plants like lobelia and alyssum not only look gorgeous, but they provide an excellent habitat for lizards and beneficial pollinators like butterflies. In addition to acting as a shelter for beneficial critters like lizards, bees, and butterflies, these fast-spreading groundcover plants will attract a bounty of other bugs that in turn act as a food source for bird populations as well as our little lizard friends.
Groundcovers Absorb Heat & Insulate Soil
Groundcovers, cover the ground, of course! They are usually pretty quick to spread, and once they do, they tend to block that hot California sunshine from hitting the soil surface directly. This helps keep the soil temperature lower overall, which helps protect the roots of the rest of the plants in your garden. As they protect the soil from reaching sweltering temperatures, they also help to prevent water evaporation to a much greater degree than rocks or mulch ever will. By soaking your groundcover plants either in the early morning or late evening, the water will seep down to the root level and have a bigger window of time to absorb into the soil. Not only is this good for your plants, but the environment overall. It’s one of the simplest ways to conserve water here in California.
Groundcovers Encourage Soil Health & Suppress Weeds
If weeds are the bane of your existence as a gardener, then you definitely need to get on the groundcover train. Empty patches in the garden are pretty much an open invitation for weeds to pop up, but by planting creeping or spreading groundcover plants, you reduce the opportunity for weeds to take over your garden.
Research also shows that bare soil tends to have decreased microbial activity (translation: fewer nutrients for your plants). On the other hand, gardens with groundcovers boost those beneficial soil microbes and increase biodiversity, in turn inviting in welcome visitors like earthworms and other beneficial microorganisms.
Groundcovers Help Reduce Erosion & Retain Topsoil
Soil erosion occurs when either water or wind picks up tiny particles from the soil's surface, depositing them elsewhere, like your walkway or patio. Erosion can be particularly troublesome for gardeners with any notable slopes in their yard, but groundcover plants are here to save the day! Plant spreading groundcover plants in your garden (but mainly on slopes) to slow runoff, and in turn significantly reduce the amount of erosion and topsoil loss than rocks or mulch ever will.
Groundcovers Are Both Gorgeous & Easy To Maintain
Groundcovers are not just environmentally friendly workhorses who give up all the glory to their more attention-grabbing friends. Some hug the soil, but some also mound and can grow up to three feet high. Native groundcover like wild strawberries will provide you with beautiful, showy flowers while offering so many more benefits to your garden than mulch ever could.
If you’re officially ready to kick that mulch to the curb and replace it with some gorgeous groundcovers, we are here for it! Despite their more diminutive stature, the level of impact they will have both above and below the soil will definitely amaze you. There are plenty of spreading groundcover plants to choose from here at Roger’s Gardens! Come for a visit to check them out; our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you select the ideal variety for any corner of your garden.
For more information on groundcover, watch and learn How to Plant & Grow Groundcover and Gardening 101 Series | How do you Control or Prevent Weeds.