Mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of soil to protect and enrich it. It is used in a variety of horticultural settings, from small home gardens to large commercial nurseries. Mulch can be made from a wide range of natural or synthetic materials, each with its own unique properties and benefits.
Organic mulches, such as wood chips, leaves, straw, or bark, are made from plant materials that will eventually decompose and enrich the soil as they break down. These mulches can be made from a variety of sources, including trees, shrubs, and grasses. To make organic mulch, the raw materials are first collected and processed. This can involve chipping, shredding, or grinding the materials to create a more uniform product. The processed materials are then screened to remove any contaminants or debris, and they are often dyed or treated with a variety of chemicals to enhance their color or durability.
The capital equipment costs to manufacture mulch can be intensive. Equipment needed to chip, shred, and grind mulch can range from $1,000 to $100,000+ depending on the scale mulch needed to be made, the target market that will be served, and the growth targets of the manufacturer. In addition, equipment is needed to move raw materials and the finished product such as trucks and conveyor belts.
Inorganic mulches, such as plastic or rubber, are made from synthetic materials that do not decompose. These mulches are typically made from recycled materials, and they are often chosen for their ability to suppress weeds, conserve moisture, and reduce the need for irrigation.
To make inorganic mulch, the raw materials are first collected and cleaned to remove any contaminants or debris. The materials are then melted down and extruded into thin sheets or rolls, which are then cut into the desired size and shape. Inorganic mulches are often treated with UV inhibitors to help them resist fading and deterioration over time.
Whether made from organic or synthetic materials, mulch plays a vital role in helping plants and gardens to thrive.