Many people look at mulching as a gardening option that might be too expensive for them, but there are many options that can give you all the benefits of mulching without draining your bank account. The cheapest mulching option is to use what’s in your very own backyard, grass clippings. After mowing your lawn, don’t throw away your grass clippings; instead spread the clippings over your soil and use them as mulch. Or use leaves that you have raked up. You could even take it a step further and start your very own compost by using kitchen green material (such as vegetable peelings) and lawn clippings and/or leaves along with soil and sticks from your back yard. Both of these options cost nothing more than your time and can be done easily by any novice gardener.
If you don’t have a lawn that needs mowing, or the thought of composting is too tedious, consider using newspaper. Spread a few sheets of newspaper over your bare soil to create a biodegradable mulch layer. Be advised, however, that you will not receive the full benefit of mulching through the use of newspaper, as the newspaper will not contribute to the soil nutrients nor will it act as an insect repellant.
Are you looking for something that is quicker than composting and more aesthetically pleasing than lawn clippings or newspaper? Consider combing CraigsList.org or your local newspaper for advertisements regarding free or cheap tree bark or river rock. These items are frequently advertised in most local classifieds with the caveat that you haul the material away. But if you have a vehicle that can handle the load and the time to go get it, this too is a cheap mulching option. However, you should always be sure to research where the material is coming from - ask the seller if it has been exposed to any pesticides or chemicals that might affect the plants in your garden.
The most convenient, and consequently the more expensive mulching option, is to go buy bark or cocoa bean shell mulch at your local gardening store. If you chose this option, research the mulches that are available and the companies that produce them to ensure they will be the best fit for you and your garden. When choosing a type of mulch, always consider your personal circumstances and considerations. Do you have pets or children? Or anyone/anything else that may eat the mulch? Does anyone in the family have allergies? Considering your personal needs helps prepare a garden that will best serve you and your family.