Mulch: A Definition and Debate

I like The Blogging Nurseryman’s recent post about defining mulch (and his definition for his northern California customers), which came in response to a post at Garden Wise Guy on soil amendments and was then followed-up with a discussion at Garden Rant.

Obviously, the definition and discussion on amendments, mulches, composts, etc. is an important one that is often overlooked. Many times, it seems easier to throw all of these “applications” into one basket. But, the devil is in the details. And, as Susan Harris (a “ranter” at Garden Rant) asks in her post, “is there an Organic Matter Debate, or is this just a regional difference?”

So, as the loyal reader and lover of Wikipedia that I am, I wanted to check out Wikipedia’s definition of mulch, which reads: in agriculture and gardening, mulch is a protective cover placed over the soil, primarily to modify the effects of the local climate. A wide variety of natural and synthetic materials are used.

Hmmm, vague. But, I can live with that. It about sums up the general definition of mulch… one that gardeners in any zone of the U.S. can start with. To me it says: “Protect the soil. Modify it from the local climate as needed. Use an array of materials to do so.” Thus, it would seem to me that we ARE in the midst of a great “Organic Matter Debate” over the details, for what is best and how to decide…. but one with answers and opinions that we’ll find to be regional in nature.


Jeff Collard


  1. Billy says

    Sally: thanks for your post about the mini-debate spawned by my profile at GardenRant. It's a great site and filled with food for thought. If you're interested in exchanging links, I'd love to keep the connection going. You can leave a message at my blog ( BTW: Nice template for your blog! We share that in common.

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