Choose the Right Kind of Mulch
There are lots of different kinds of mulch to choose from, depending on what's in your garden and what's available where you live. Wood or bark chips, compost, straw, salt hay, cocoa husks, shredded leaves, plastic sheeting and even gravel can all make good mulch for different reasons. In the right quantities, they serve as a shield for the soil so it can do its best work.
Protect Soil, Reduce Weeds
Mulch protects the soil from erosion and helps it retain its moisture so you can water less frequently and roots grow deeper and healthier. It also keeps weeds down, reserving precious nutrients for your vegetables, flowers and shrubs so you don't have to add as much fertilizer. You spend less time and energy weed-whacking and don't need to use poisonous herbicides.
Mulch in Moderation
After you've mulched everything once, you don't necessarily have to spend a fortune every season on new bags of commercial mulch. As a matter of fact, be careful of mulching your garden with anything that attracts pests or contains dangerous chemicals, especially on vegetable gardens. Adding some organic material might be enough.
Use Fall Leaves
Autumn leaves are a gift to your garden that literally just falls out of the trees. Instead of getting rid of them all, put them through a leaf shredder or just run over them a few times with the lawnmower, rake them up and use them as fall mulch on flower or vegetable beds with a little fertilizer. You can add compost to them and turn them into the soil in the spring.
Try Recycled Options Like Rubber Mulch
In play areas or anywhere you don't want to maintain a lawn, try a recycled mulch like rubber chunks from used tires that would otherwise sit in landfills.