Using Mulch around your trees and shrubs is one of the best ways to increase root development and improve plant health. Over many years numerous studies have shown that consistently keeping a 2″-4″ layer of mulch conserves soil moisture, increases nutrient levels, reduces soil compaction, and will help moderate soil temperatures. Mulch beds bring an aesthetically pleasing view to your garden and they can also reduce trimming and mowing in your yard.
If you have a tree cut down ask your tree service to shred the tree for you to use as mulch for your garden. Fresh wood chips make for an excellent choice in mulch, unless the tree was diseased. Regardless if you have fresh wood chips, other types of mulch or ground covering plants under your trees and shrubs make sure to keep them off the trunks and buttress roots of the plants. If they are against the trunks and roots it can keep moisture levels high in the bark and the roots and this can promote the growth of fungus. This can also hide the fruiting structures of root fungi decay. It is best to keep the ground cover plants at least a foot away.
There are many types of mulch. As you notice in the picture at the beginning of this article there are also several colors. There are four main colors most people use. A more natural fresh-cut wood usually a yellow in nature, a red, brown and black mulch. Most mulch contains bark, leaves, and wood. This type of mixture provides more nutrients to the trees and plants. Just to give you an example: if you apply a 4″ layer of mulch in the spring by autumn the layer will have decomposed to an inch or less. The decomposing mulch works its way into the soil bringing those nutrients to the plants and trees and reduces the soil erosion by compaction.
These are some easy DO’s and DON’Ts of Mulching:
- Mulching Trees, the mulch should be a uniform circular pattern and resemble a donut.
- Keep the mulch away from the base of the tree and only 1″-2″ when you start the mulch around the base of the tree. This will help prevent bark and root decay which can cause the plants and trees to die or stunt the growth.
- It is good to have a defined edge for the mulch to sit in and to prevent it from merging into the lawn.
- When you re-mulch your beds you might need to remove some of the old mulch to allow the proper depth when installing fresh mulch in the beds and around the trees.
- Try not to have excess build-up of mulch around the base of the shrubs and trees.
- Avoid using chipped mulch from local municipalities or tree services because it can be full of viral infections that a tree had when it was removed and turned into mulch. Growth of saplings can also occur with this type of mulch.
- Do not put mulch over landscape fabric. This will not improve the soil. When the mulch decomposes it cannot enter the soil if there is a fabric barrier between it and the soil. The mulch will also break down creating allowing weeds to germinate above landscape fabric.