Mulching Brings the Forest Home for Your Trees
The forest floor is an ideal environment for tree health and vitality due to its ground cover made up of all organic matter varieties, including twigs, leaves, rotting flowers, and other natural debris. Although it gives the environment a more unkempt appearance than we typically want for our residential lawns, these materials serve an important purpose in shielding the soil and tree roots and allowing for optimum tree growth. The good news is you do not have to recreate the same forest floor look at home, but you can give your trees those same nutrient-dense benefits by adding mulch to your landscape’s trees.
There are numerous benefits of mulch. It provides soil with temperature control during extreme weather conditions, helps it retain moisture and nutrients, and prevents other plants, weeds, or grass from growing underneath it that would rob your trees of necessary nourishment. It also:
- Improves soil structure, aeration, water infiltration, and potency.
- Provides a barrier from yard tools such as lawnmowers, edgers, and trimmers.
- Avoids footstep or vehicle compaction.
Without the same healthful environment found on the forest floor, tree soil is at risk of drying out, becoming overheated or cold, or unable to provide adequate nutrients.
Organic vs. Inorganic
There are many different types of available mulch, but organic mulch is the clear winner when it comes to soil nutrition. The term organic mulch refers to anything natural, such as wood chips, bark, pine needles, hay, leaves, or compost. Organic mulch is more beneficial to trees than inorganic because as the organic mulch decomposes, it allows for soil microorganism growth in addition to the following benefits:
- Allows the soil to retain water and nutrients
- Minimizes evaporation and soil erosion
- Controls soil temperatures
- Prohibits the growth of weeds
- Contains soil diseases and prevents their spread
Contrarily, inorganic mulch is human-made. It often contains harsh chemicals that can negatively affect soil, and while it does provide some weed protection, it does not offer as many benefits as organic mulch.
Once you have chosen the best organic mulch for your landscape, it is time to lay it down. Following this multi-step process ensures that your trees are fed well by your mulch.
Before applying your mulch, it is essential to ready the area, including removing weeds and debris from around the tree. Prune away any roots sticking out from the ground near the tree, which indicates a thirsty tree, and use a shovel to remove any grass or growth near the tree’s trunk.
Then, spread the mulch in a thin layer starting around 1-2 inches deep, extending around 4-5 feet around the base of the tree. Take care not to pile it up the tree trunk in a volcano pattern with heavy mulching layers at the bottom of the tree and thinning as it moves up the trunk. Instead, mulch should fan out to be an above ground cover for the tree’s entire root system and should not touch the tree at all. Leaving a clearance of about 1-2 inches is best for the trees. Avoid using plastic or fabric barriers underneath the mulch, as these hinder the soil from receiving the maximum benefits.
Then, continue laying the mulch in layers until it reaches 2-4 inches deep. Consider adding a barrier to prevent the mulch from washing away in the wind or rain. Extra mulch or stones can be used for this purpose.
It is important to maintain the mulch by removing weeds or unwanted growth as soon as you notice it, either by manual pruning or through herbicide. Mulch should also be raked and loosened occasionally to avoid compaction and your tree not receiving enough oxygen. Typically, the mulch should be replenished annually, but organic mulch may require replacement more frequently than inorganic types because it decays.
Gaston Knows So Much About Mulch
To bring the benefits of the forest floor home to your trees through effective mulching, rely on the advice and products from our expert team at Gaston Mulch and Soil. We offer bulk options to suit project needs of any size, free pickup at our Gainesville location, and delivery options available throughout Florida. Even better, all of our mulch is created from our Gaston’s Tree Debris Recycling processes, making mulching a greener process for our customers. Contact us today so we can help you mulch your way to your healthiest trees yet!