There are pros and cons to using rock mulch instead of organic mulch

Rock as a Mulch Material

Rock mulch

Rock is widely used for aesthetic purposes in the landscape. The color variations and textures of rocks offer many options in finishing touches. Rock also has many benefits as a mulch. There are pros and cons to using rock mulch instead of organic mulch.

Combined with a landscape fabric, rock suppresses weeds by smothering their growth and blocking light on the surface to keep weed seeds from germinating.

A layer of fabric and mulch over bare dirt will stop the splattering of the dirt onto walls and walks, as well as the splattering of soil borne diseases onto lower foliage.

Rock will deflect the compacting effect of rain on certain soils.

Rock does not decompose like organic mulches do, so there is no benefit of improving the soil, but it also means the need to replenish frequently is small.

The need for landscape fabric underneath is certain, otherwise the rock will sink, especially on sandy soil, and the result will be a mix of rock and soil on the surface – a prime spot for weed seed to germinate.

Temperature can be a problem with rock on hot, sunny days. It can get very warm and raise the soil temperature as well as the air temperature in the immediate vicinity. You’ll have to make allowance for that in the choice of plant material for that area. Some designers get around that by using rock in areas that don’t have plant material close and organic mulch in the planting beds.

Cleanliness of leaf and other plant debris is more critical in rock because of the contrasting appearances and if not cleaned up, the risk of weed seed germination in the decaying plant material is possible. With larger rock it is easier to blow fallen leaves out of the area.

Rock can be a better choice for areas near the house because it doesn’t attract insects as easily as organic mulches.

Future replanting of areas with rock and landscape fabric can be a little more awkward than organic mulch without fabric. If a piece of organic mulch makes its way into the planting hole, it will decompose.

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Protect Your Crops with Effective Shade Cloth

Keep Your Tomatoes Safe from Too Much Sunlight

Protecting your crops against pest attacks and diseases is one of the most important steps of making sure that your vegetable or fruit garden will be able to provide you with healthy, more and better yields. Another important step in effective gardening is ensuring that your crops are protected from hot and hazardous temperatures, particularly during the hottest parts of the summer season. That is why shade cloth is one of the most highly recommended options in providing efficient protection.

Shade cloth installed on a field crops
Protecting crops correctly results in healthy and higher quality fruits.

Learning More about Proper Heat Protection with Shade Cloth

Shade cloth helps by lowering the summer heat. Therefore, it lets you extend your beautiful spring garden, as well as allows you to start on planting your desired fall garden at much earlier date. By being able to accomplish both gardening goals, you are giving your garden the chance to produce more.

Shading your crops is, of course, not an easy task that can be easily accomplished overnight. There are several factors to take into consideration. For instance, you will have to consider what type of shading would be more beneficial for your crops.

Shade cloth installed in a backyard of a house
The shade fabric reduces heat and allows the garden to be expanded by planting more crops.

Choosing the Best Shading

Seeing your plants (flowers and/or vegetables) grow beautiful in the Spring months can be a truly an exciting and enjoyable experience. This is the season when temperature is nicely comfortable with the friendly environment agreeing with your crops. It is a sad thing though that Spring ends and Summer follows closely. This is when the temperature turns from nice and comfortable to hot and almost unbearable. If you are taking more showers during the summer, it is also the season when you should start watering the plants more. In addition, the summer is also the best season to start thinking about putting additional protection to your beloved garden.

Shade clothing is an ideal option because it protects your plants just like sunscreen protects your skin. By providing shading, you are effectively providing cover and shelter, which in turn allows for saving energy and water while your plants are growing healthier and faster.

Shade clothing is made through either knitting or weaving, and with different densities. These densities are known as percentages, and the differences are based on the sunlight amounts that can penetrate through the shading material. The shade clothing percentage you opt for is the percentage of the sunlight that you can actually block out.

Shade cloth placed in a field
The density should be chosen to give a low shading like the cultivated plants.

Reducing Stress by Using Tomato Cage Shading System

Shading your tomatoes is one good way of providing them with enough protection from too much exposure to sunlight. By proving shade, you are keeping your crops healthy and they can produce properly because they are saved from getting too stressed. This is an effective means of making sure that your tomatoes are going to perform better once the temperature has leveled out or when temperatures get cooler in the Fall months. If your tomatoes are getting stressed out during the hot months, they are not going to provide you with healthy productivity.

All gardeners already know that it can really get too hot in some areas during summer and most of the time; it seems as if the heat just wants to stay and you would not want your crops to suffer, of course. To prevent sun damage, you can start shading in the early seedling seasons by simply setting a chair (folding) over them.

Another trick that you can use when your tomatoes are growing in a cage is tucking the leaves inside the cages. By doing this, your tomatoes will be creating a protective and dense foliage layers that reduce fluid loss during a potential heat wave. By having thicker foliage, your tomatoes also get enough protection from getting sunscalded.

But of course, nothing beats a shading system that would really protect your tomatoes and other crops from the hazards of the sun. This is where you will want to acquire shade cloth plus support, like tomato ring.

Shade cloth installed in crops
To give a better protection should be given an adequate shade so as not to expose them too much to sunlight.

DIY Shading Versus Manufactured Shading Cloth

There are some gardeners who use available materials for shading their plants. Some use old sheets in draping. Others use burlap for support. There are also those who opt for using lattice panels in diffusing the light.

Though, those materials do help in keeping some sunlight off the plants, going for the material that is intended for the specific purpose is still the best choice. The material that is constructed particularly for shading your tomatoes are designed to keep a bigger amount or level of UV rays. Additionally, they also work best at keeping the crops cooler when the heat is on.

As mentioned above, you can go for either woven or knitted shading. If you think that your plants need minimal shading, then going for the 30 percentage shading should be alright. But, if you are living in a region where it really gets hot during the summer, then 50 percentage would probably be the better option.

It is important to keep in mind that your shading material should be installed above your tomatoes. It should be high enough as to not touch your plants. You would not want your tomatoes to be short or crowded, right? With the right support like a tomato ring or cage, you are also allowing sufficient air flow under the shading. This is vital in reducing the spread of common gardening-related diseases.

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