Maintain moisture and improve soil conditions
Mulches are materials placed over the soil surface to maintain moisture and improve soil conditions. Mulching is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your trees. Mulch can reduce water loss from the soil, minimize weed competition, and improve soil structure. Mulch must be applied properly; if it is too deep or if the wrong material is used, it can actually cause significant harm to trees and other landscape plants.
The benefits of proper mulching:
- Helps maintain soil moisture. Evaporation is reduced, and the need for watering can be minimized.
- Helps control weeds. A 2-4 inch layer of mulch will reduce the germination and growth of weeds.
- Mulch serves as an insulating blanket, keeping soils warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
- Many types of mulch can improve soil aeration and drainage over time.
- Apply mulch several inches from the base of the tree so the trunk and the root crown are exposed.
- Organic, well aerated and preferably composted mulch is usually best due to their soil-enhancing properties. Avoid sour-smelling mulch.
- Composted wood chips make good mulch, especially when they contain a blend of leaves, bark, and wood. Fresh wood chips may also be used around established trees and shrubs.
- For well-drained sites, apply a 2-4 inch layer. Place mulch out to the tree’s drip line or beyond.
Remember not to:
- Pile mulch too deep it can lead to excess moisture in the root zone causing root rot.
- Pile mulch against the trunk or stems of plants it may lead to insect and disease problems.