Let’s talk mulch. Most people only think of mulching during spring, but fall is a perfect time to mulch in a natural, environmentally friendly and cost-free way — by repurposing fallen leaves. If your lawnmower has a mulching attachment, that makes easy work out of this job; just bag up the leaves then spread them in landscaping beds and around tree trunks. The nutrients will help the trees, plants and the soil.
In the spring, heavier mulching is encouraged to keep moisture locked in the soil while keeping weeds out.
With the steps outlined below, you’ll learn how to mulch trees, how much mulch to use, and the best type of mulch for your needs.
5 ways mulch benefits trees
- Retains moisture and prevents weeds — Mulching trees provides an insulating blanket over the soil to reduce evaporation and retain moisture for the tree’s roots. It also prevents the loss of water by run-off and erosion. Mulch also suppresses the growth of weeds and grasses, preventing the tree from having to compete with invasive plants for water.
- Regulates soil temperature — Soil temperature can be moderated by using the correct amount of mulch. During cold weather, mulch helps the soil retain warmth, which helps reduce the chance of frost damage or root injury. During hot weather, mulch keeps the soil cool and protects the ground from the sun and heat. This, in turn, protects the top soil from drying out and hardening around the tree roots.
- Improves soil health — When organic mulch (think fallen leaves) decomposes, it provides structure, nutrients and aeration for the soil.
Organic vs. Inorganic mulch
What’s the best type of mulch for your lawn — organic? Or inorganic?
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each:
- Organic — Organic mulch, such as wood chips, straw, pine needles, bark and leaves, requires more routine care than inorganic but has a multitude of benefits, including improving the soil structure and increasing soil fertility as the mulch decomposes. Because of that decomposition, however, organic mulch requires upkeep and routine reapplication.
- Inorganic — Inorganic mulch, such as stones, gravel, pebbles or rubber, can be eye-catching and low-maintenance. While these don’t provide the same soil-enriching benefits as organic mulches, they provide longer-lasting weed prevention that requires less upkeep. They can also be aesthetically versatile and an attractive addition to your landscape.
Where to mulch trees
Mulch should be kept away from tree trunks and begin at the area where the roots flare out above ground, at the base of the tree. The circumference of the mulch area should increase as the tree grows. The general rule of thumb is the mulch area should extend as far out as the tree’s canopy reaches, also known as the tree’s drip line.
Avoid over mulching
Drive by many landscaped properties, and you’ll notice one of the most common landscaping mistakes: over-mulching. Our lawn care specialists in Kingsport strongly recommend against piling mulch over the root flare of a tree and up its truck. The depth of mulch should be two to four inches deep or less, depending on soil drainage underneath. Fine or dense mulch such as pebbles should be piled one to two inches deep to ensure oxygen and water can reach the root system.
Mulch your trees for health
Mulching benefits the health of trees and the soil underneath them. If you have questions about the care of your trees, give our landscaping specialists at Promier Landscapes a call at (423) 723-8598, or reach us online today.