Mulch is defined as a layer of substance (organic or inorganic) placed on the surface of the soil around landscape plants. A two to four inch layer of organic mulch such as pine needles, wood chips, or bark that will decompose can actually improve the soil over time. Below are some of the benefits of properly installed mulch.
- Retains soil moisture, cutting water use by up to 50%
- Stabilizes soil moisture
- Stimulates microorganism activity which can improve soil texture.
- Controls the growth of grass and weeds which can rob the soil of water and nutrients.
- Moderates soil temperature
- Controls erosion
- Improved appearance
- Keeps mowers and line trimmers away from the trunk avoiding mechanical injury
Wood bark or wood chip mulch is ideal for use around trees and landscape plants. Old research indicated that mulch would tie up soil nutrients as they break down, thus causing deficiencies in plants. Further research has proven that the nitrogen deficiency only exists at the mulch/soil surface, inhibiting weed seed germination while having no impact on established tree roots.
One of the biggest mistakes when mulching is applying too much or creating what we call “volcano mulching”. This is where mulch is piled high against the trunk of the tree causing a volcano like appearance. This can cause the plant to decline or even die as it keeps too much soil moisture against the trunk of the tree allowing rot/decay to move into the main stem of the plant. The stressed tree will become more vulnerable to insects, fungi, and bacteria. The excess mulch will also stop water from reaching the soil under the tree causing drought stress symptoms on the plant. Please contact one of our tree professionals if you think your mulch may have been installed incorrectly or if you would like mulch added to your landscape.