Posted on 3rd March 2021
Before the onset of spring and the emergence of weeds in planting beds, February and early March are good times to start preparing your garden area to suppress the dreaded weeds and help your garden maintenance.
The main decision to think about is should you use bark mulch or slate chippings. Both will help suppress weeds and give your garden a neat, tidy appearance and will reduce the amount of time spent on tasks such as watering and weeding.
The critical question is, therefore, do you want a biodegradable or a non-biodegradable mulch.
The former will break down gradually to release nutrients into the soil and help improve its structure. Still, layers will need replacing when the material has fully rotted down, and you must ensure you buy from a certified reliable source with good quality material, or there is the potential possibility of introducing weeds, pests and other diseases into the garden.
The non-biodegradable option such as slate chippings using British slate does have many advantages. Slate chippings will not boost the soil's fertility or structure, but they do suppress weeds, conserve moisture, and the geological composition of English and Welsh slate chippings means they are unlikely to change the PH levels of soil or ponds.
Slate chippings are also an aesthetically pleasing material that can help offset the colour of the planting and foliage and add a different dimension to your garden design, being available in blue, green and plum slate colours in sizes ranging from 10mm, 20mm and 40mm.
Slate chippings will also not rot or degrade, which means they do not need to be topped up as frequently and will therefore last much longer and require only occasional top-ups rather than re-starting the process of decorating and protecting planting beds. So, if the price is a crucial factor, slate chipping is a more cost-effective investment in the long term.
Also, other issues often levied towards the use of bark mulch is that it can easily blow away and move too quickly, spreading onto adjacent paths and being scattered by birds as well as a tendency to be liked by cats for use as a toilet area.
In summary, both British slate chippings and timber bark chippings are recycled products, so both have an environmentally green footprint, but ultimately it is a personal choice dependent upon the look and feel you want and the level of maintenance you think is acceptable in your garden.