Most gardeners are familiar with the major benefits of mulch: conservation of water, cooler soil temperatures, and a reduction in weeds. The first two benefits are especially important in areas like the Southern Plains, where we have to mitigate the effects of our hot, dry summers.
Many materials are suitable for use as mulch, and they can be divided into two main groups: organic mulches, which break down and add nutrients to the garden over time, and inorganic mulches, which don’t break down and therefore don’t add to soil fertility. Inorganic mulches such as pea gravel and decomposed granite are generally used in xeric gardens or rock gardens. Organic mulches include a variety of shredded wood types such as bark mulch, pine needles, leaf mold, rice hulls, straw, and even old hay. There is, however, a less common type of organic mulch with many advantages: pecan shell mulch.
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