What is Sugar Cane Mulch and What Is It Used For – Your Guide
Every avid horticulturist knows the importance of applying mulch. From moisture retention to weed control and enhanced microbial activity, the right mulch can make a wilting garden bed bloom.
But with such a wide array of mulches to sift through at your local hardware store, choosing the right type can become a conundrum. Should you go with Lucerne, wood chips, pebbles, pea stray, hay, compost, or leaves?
Every mulch variety has distinct pros and cons; some perform better in certain situations than others.
In this post, we’ll discuss the nitty-gritty details of the classic domestic all-rounder: sugar cane mulch.
What Is Sugar Cane Mulch, and How Is It Made?
Mulch-makers create sugar cane mulch by shredding the tips and leaves of the sugar cane plant. As these portions aren’t useful in the sugar production process, they’re an organic by-product that would otherwise go to waste.
Because Australia has a humungous sugar cane industry (especially up north in Queensland), we’ve got an abundance of the stuff. And that excess supply means sugar cane mulch is one of the most economical mulching solutions on the market.
Sugar cane mulch typically comes in great big bales and has a straw or hay-like aesthetic.
The Pros and Cons of Sugar Cane Mulch
What does sugar cane mulch do? And is it the right choice for your garden?
Let’s examine its feasibility by breaking down the key benefits of sugar cane mulch and its drawbacks.
The Advantages of Sugar Cane Mulch
- Rapidly breaks down into the soil to quickly provide nutrients for micro-organisms
- Retains moisture to reduce the amount of watering required
- An absence of seeds means you won’t inadvertently introduce new species
- Smothers weeds to block sunlight and stop them from proliferating in your garden bed
- Prevents soil erosion to stop your garden bed from washing away in heavy rain
- Environmentally-friendly organic by-product produced in a sustainable way
- Sunlight reflective properties protect plants from extreme temperatures (perfect for a sweltering Aussie summer)
- Easy to apply and 100% safe to use
- Affordable and widely available in Australia
- Encourages earthworm activity
The Disadvantages of Sugar Cane Mulch
- Lightweight material that easily blows away
- Some gardeners aren’t a fan of the hay-like look
- Fast breakdown period means it requires replacing more frequently
What is Sugar Cane Mulch Good For?
As a versatile all-rounder, sugar cane mulch is suitable for various domestic gardening applications. Green thumbs commonly apply sugar cane mulch to aid growth in regularly maintained areas such as flower beds, around citrus fruit trees, and within herb or vegetable gardens.
Sugar cane mulch effectively promotes earthworm activity, making it especially attractive for no-dig gardens.
Furthermore, as this mulch is so affordable in bulk, sugar cane is a cost-effective way to cover large areas or fill raised garden beds with beneficial organic matter.
The downside, however, is you‘ll have to replace the mulch more often, and it tends to blow away on windy days.
How to Apply Sugar Cane Mulch
Here’s how to apply sugar cane mulch to your garden.
- Remove any weeds from the mulching zone
- Spread an even layer of mulch between 4cm and 10cm thick (or 2cm to 4cm if re-mulching)
- Create a small mulch-free ring around the plants, so the shredded sugar cane doesn’t touch the stems
- Water the area with a hose to improve wind resistance and water retention
The Best Time to Apply Sugar Cane Mulch
Mulch is always better than no mulch. If your garden bed lacks a nice cosy layer of nutrient-enriching sugar cane mulch, the best time to apply one is now.
However, applying mulch on a scorching summer day will seal the heat underneath, potentially damaging delicate plants. Conversely, if you layer mulch in winter or early spring, it could prevent the soil from warming to an effective growing temperature.
If possible, it’s best to apply your first mulch layer at moderate temperatures. The middle of autumn and spring offer ideal conditions as new growth is already underway. When re-mulching, feel free to apply shredded sugar cane at any time.
Sugar Cane Mulch FAQs
Is Sugar Cane Mulch Good For Feeding Your Garden Soil?
Sugar cane mulch breaks down rapidly to enrich the soil underneath with nutrients. As it adds essential organic matter in a timely fashion, it’s a great way to feed your garden soil.
Is Sugar Cane Mulch Good For Preventing Weeds?
Sugar cane mulch is a powerful weapon in the war against weeds. Applying a thick layer prevents unwanted seeds from infiltrating the soil below. Meanwhile, its reflective properties block sunlight, so any existing weeds will struggle to grow.
How Much Sugar Cane Mulch Do I Need?
A typical 12kg bale of sugar mulch will cover around 8 square metres with a depth of 5 cm. If you’re aiming for a thicker layer of 10cm, the same bale will cover about 4 square metres.
How Long Does Sugar Cane Mulch Last?
Sugar cane mulch will break down and require re-mulching after about 12 months. Keep an eye on your garden bed to see how the decomposition is progressing.
Does Sugar Cane Mulch Stop Snails?
Sugar cane mulch may attract snails and slugs due to its moist composition and high sugar and yeast content. If these pests are wreaking havoc on your garden, consider switching mulch types or enlisting preventative measures like traps.
Does Sugar Cane Mulch Blow Away?
Due to its lightweight composition, sugar cane mulch does tend to blow away in strong winds. Watering can help. However, you may find heavier mulches more appropriate in wind-prone areas.
Is Sugar Cane Mulch Good For Citrus Trees?
Organic mulches like sugar cane are effective at aiding the growth of various citrus tree species due to their shallow roots.
Wellers Hill Hardware & Landscape Supplies
Conveniently located in Tarragindi, Wellers Hill is a family-run business famed for its excellent service, high-quality products, and outstanding value for money.
Pop in and see us today to snag a great deal on organic sugar cane mulch or other hardware and landscaping supplies.
Can’t make it to us? We offer a delivery service anywhere in Brisbane from our off-site holding yards.
Should you have any doubts, call us on 07 3848 1682 to see how our expert team can help with your gardening needs. If sugar cane mulch isn’t the ideal option, we’ll recommend a suitable alternative for you.