Posted on Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

I’m a great lover of composted bark as a garden mulch. It binds together to give good coverage, is pretty well composted so won’t draw nitrogen out of the soil while breaking down (which bark chippings can do if they get dug into the soil) and it as a beautifully dark appearance. So this year, in spring panic buying (my preference is to do a final weed and mulch in late autumn, but it never quite seems to transpire) to get the mulch down before too many weeds take hold, I scoured the internet for the best composted bark offer. Various sites and prices were noted down and then I noticed that one site was offering ‘strulch’ as a mulch, which is composted straw. It looked OK, apparently only requiring 3 to 4cm coverage to be effective, so it goes a long way. It also boasted the credentials that it is used by the Eden project. But it wasn’t all these glowing recommendations that caught my attention, it was the fact that there was an offer on to get 12 bags for the price of 6, making it cheaper than the composted bark I’d been looking at…after all a thrifty gardener is a gardener with money left over to buy more plants with!!

So I went ahead and strulched. The 12 bags duly arrived. As the delivery man hefted them out of the van I noticed a distinct lack of perspiration from him. Going over to the bags I tried to lift on – and could do so single handed! Then feeling a little guilty for my apathy, I offered to help him unload the rest. So that’s already one tick in the box for strulch, it’s very easy to handle.

Next, the spreading. I dutifully pulled out all the weeds on the first border to be treated and applied the strulch to the recommended 3-4cm depth. It spread out easily and did appear well enough knitted together that the relatively shallow depth should be effective at suppressing weeds and keeping moisture in. As instructed on the bag I then watered it in (as no handy rainfall was due) to prevent it drying and spreading across mine and neighbouring gardens.

The next day it was still in place, so another tick in the box. It remains to be seen whether it is as effective as it is easy to use, but I am optimistic that my weeds will be summarily controlled by it. The only down side I can see, so far, is that its lighter colour isn’t quite as pleasing to the eye as the deep, black of composted bark which contrasts so well with the summer blooms. But I guess I can just use the money I saved to buy more plants so there’s no chance of seeing the mulch under the cacophony of flowers anyway!