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Does The Type of Mulch Used Affect Plant Growth?

Subject: Language Arts, Applied Math, Science
Grade: 3-5

Brief Description

Does the type of mulch used affect plant growth? Use cypress mulch, cedar mulch, and pine bark. The control group is the type of plant used. The variable group is the type of mulch used. The experiment lasts for at least seven days.



  • measure the height of their plants and record the data daily on a data table created in class.
  • water the plants with tap water when needed.
  • follow the scientific method.
  • graph the total daily results from the measurement data table at the conclusion of the experiment.
  • average the growth of the plant.
  • average the growth of plants using each type of mulch.
  • graph the average growth of the plants using each type of mulch.

poetry, life cycles, apple, giving, tree, Silverstein

Materials Needed

  • three types of mulch: cypress mulch, cedar mulch, and pine
  • bark
  • metric ruler
  • foam plates
  • folder
  • paper
  • crayons
  • pencils
  • water
  • one plant per student
    (Teacher note: My class used Impatiens plants.)

    Suggestion: Use only three different colors of flowering plants to color-code the kind of mulch used on each plant.

Lesson Plan
  • Give each student one plant and handful of one of the three types of mulch. Tell students to lay the mulch on top of the soil around the base of the plant. (Teacher note: Make sure to read the tip about color coding the flowering plants to the mulch. Any colors are acceptable. My class used orange plants for cedar, purple for cypress, and pink for pink bark. Students used the corresponding colors on their graphs.)
  • Have students use paper, pencils, and rulers to create their data tables. The tables should provide space for students to note the date and height of each plant.
  • Have students measure the height of the plant and write their measurements on the data tables. Tell students to measure the plants from the top of the soil to the top of the plant.
  • Next, have the class determine the problem, hypothesis, and method for the experiment and write this information on paper.
  • Students record the measurements of the plants daily for seven to ten days and then graph and average the growth of their plants.
  • Put each mulch group together. Have the students compute the average of all the average plant growths in that group.
  • Have students compare the growth of the plants from all the mulch groups. Then, have students graph the average growth of each group.
  • Wrap up the lesson by having students formulate a conclusion to the problem, research information about the mulch they used, and write a one-paragraph summary of the facts that were obtained.

Students will be graded according to neatness, completeness, accuracy of facts researched, and accuracy in mathematical computations.

Lesson Plan Source

Submitted by: Nadine LaMonte, ([email protected] ) Deltona Elementary School, Spring Hill, Florida



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