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The volcanic lapilli is a molten rock, produced by the activity of volcanoes which, acting at very high temperatures, "produce" these lapilli from their crater which, once cold, turn into brittle rocks, brown / red, rich in mineral salts and very porous.
A material that has long been used in gardening but ... for what reasons?
Characteristics of volcanic lapilli
In order to fully understand what are the characteristics of the volcanic lapilli we introduce immediately that it is an inert rock, which cannot change the natural pH of the soil and does not fertilize. Rich in mineral salts, these elements tend to dissolve gradually in the soil in which they are placed.
On the market, volcanic lapilli are sold with various grain sizes: you can therefore choose the most suitable type for the use you want to make of them. In principle, the smaller grain sizes are used in order to make the more compact soil more draining, while the larger grain sizes are used in place of expanded clay.
Consequences of volcanic lapilli
But what are the consequences he effects of the volcanic lapilli in gardening?
Finding out is very simple, given that there are numerous substantial and formal benefits. On the other hand, it is sufficient to take a look at the flower beds and land in which the lapillus is stored: the aesthetic appearance will be much more pleasant than that with traditional mulch.
As far as its function is concerned, volcanic lapilli has a utility that is well comparable to that performed by the bark, protecting the soil from isolation and insolation, from weeding and more.
Read also: Winter garden tunnel
Volcanic stone as mulch
There mulch in lava stone, or in volcanic lapilli, is one of the most practical and functional mulches. It has similar characteristics to traditional mulches, as it allows a correct flow of water without absorbing any. Like other comparable materials, lava stone also helps the soil stay warm, although not in the same way. While other "rubbery" substances act as heat insulators, volcanic lapillus absorbs heat during the day, and then helps the plants to stay warm all night.
Volcanic lapilli is also useful a maintain humidity and, with the help of a barrier such as fabric or plastic under it, it can prevent weeds from entering your garden. At the opposite end of the spectrum, lapilli is quite light, and therefore may not remain very firm and stable.
In addition, it is necessary to be careful when using lava stone for this purpose, because unwanted material could accumulate between the rocks, preventing air and water from reaching the ground properly.
Alternatives to volcanic lapilli in the garden
As known, the volcanic lapilli it is not the only alternative that you can use to achieve the above purposes, although not all remedies will have the same good-natured characteristics.
For example, many people try to opt for one rubber mulch, even if it's not exactly ideal for your green areas. Rubber mulch is generally made from recycled rubber, and has the main ability to insulate the soil from heat compared to wood mulch. Furthermore, since rubber is a non-porous material, moisture does not disperse through the mulch layer into the underlying soil.
A very popular alternative in Italy is the bark mulch which, as the name suggests, comes from the bark of trees. More precisely, it is the bark that has been collected from various conifers, such as pines and firs. Mulching the bark is definitely one of the aesthetically pleasing choices, as the large bark flakes catch the eye quite well, and also have good benefits for plant growth, because - for example, it does not allow moisture to evaporate very well. Furthermore, with aging, it can supply nutrients to the soil. On the other hand, it should be borne in mind that it is a fairly light substance, and therefore it can be moved by wind or rain. Furthermore, it can be a bit fragile and prone to splintering.
We add, among the main alternatives, also mulching in hardwood, potentially very cheap. Since it is basically made up of waste from tree cutting and old wooden objects, it is a low cost alternative. In gardens and other landscaping situations, hardwood shavings can be used around plants that don't require a lot of acid, as it tends to be an alkaline solution. Be warned, though: this component is prone to turning gray after some time, at which point it will need to be raked and turned or thrown. Additionally, hardwood shavings are a great buffet for termites, so having hardwood mulch in a garden that borders your home is not recommended.
Finally, you can opt to use them as mulch fallen leaves from trees. This solution costs absolutely nothing, doesn't require a lot of work, and works pretty well. However, there are a couple of caveats to keep in mind when using leaves as mulch.
in particular, the leaves should be shredded, and the soil should be controlled so that a layer of too thick leaves is not created, which could have undesirable negative effects on the soil, such as preventing air and water from flowing into indoor. At the same time, they can also hold too much moisture, taking into account potential rot and fungus problems.
We hope these tips have been useful to you - talk to your trusted gardener to find out more!