Many tree care professionals will praise the benefits of using mulch around trees and for very good reason. Mulching around trees have several benefits. It reduces soil compaction, reduces weed growth, and conserves moisture; all of which is going to create long-term health benefits for your tree.
What is Mulch?
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.
What Can I use As Mulch Should I Use?
There are several different types of mulch that’s available.but the two primary types of mulch are organic and inorganic. Inorganic mulches include: stone, lava rock, geotextile fabrics, rubber, and other materials. Inorganic mulches don’t decompose and don’t need to be replaced too often. The downside of using inorganic mulches, is that they don’t improve soil or provide much needed nutrients for the tree. For these reasons, most arborists use organic mulches.
Organic mulches include: leaves, pine needles, wood chips, hardwood or softwood bark, cocoa hulls, compost, and various other products derived from plants. Organic mulches are designed to decompose in the landscape. They break down at different rates that depend on the type of material used and also the climate plays an important role. Remember, that mulches that decompose/break down at a faster rate must be replenished more often. Although it can be an annoyance to need to replenish your mulch, it’s actually very beneficial for your tree because it improves the soil structure. That’s the main reason why most arborists will recommend organic mulch over inorganic and view the added maintenance as a positive aspect.
Tips to Remember:
- 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.
As always, please reach out to us with any questions on how to properly mulch around your tree! We’re happy to help!
Curious to learn more about tree care? Read more about how to keep your trees healthy!