Mulches are blankets of loose material that cover the soil to minimize evaporation, keep roots cool in summer, suppress weed growth and slow erosion. Mulches can also provide visual interest and make the landscape more cohesive until young plants mature to fill the space.
Fibrous mulches such as pecan shells, shredded bark and composted cotton burrs are commonly used in planting beds, especially where plants prefer organic matter.
Stone mulches such as crusher fines and gravel of various sizes and colors, can be used as pathways, lining rainwa- ter catchment, streambeds and basins, and to add texture to planting areas where desert plants prefer improved drainage.
Never use impervious plastic sheeting under mulches as it blocks air movement needed for healthy root growth and results in shallowly rooted plants more vulnerable to wind throw. Many types of pervious landscape fabrics are available where such material is needed for weed suppression or erosion control.