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Here's What You Can Substitute
For Mulch
Mulch is a key component in maintaining garden health, as it’s a natural defense against erosion that equalizes fast temperature swings in the surrounding environment. While many think of mulch as simply wood chips, a range of alternatives can be used in gardens or other landscaping features.
A substance that many homeowners have in abundance is cut grass, and these clippings will break down where they were cut, creating a natural fertilization and mulch cycle. This is also true of fallen leaves, which can be shredded, and spread with the same method.
Rock-based mulch products are perfect for increasing the flow of water drainage for planters that won't support active growth in a consistently moist soil environment, and they are longer-lasting than wood or leaf mulches. However, you'll need to account for the loss of organic decomposition that an alternative source provides, which you can do by adding plant fertilizer in liquid form.