Is Mulch Around My Trees Helpful?
How To Mulch A Tree?
Mulch is used around the base of trees to help provide insulation and water retention, and it only takes about two to three inches of mulch to achieve these goals. In this case, more is not better.
First, be sure to remove grass that might be crowding the tree and competing for water and root space. Then, using a rake, spread the mulch about two to three feet around the base of the tree in all directions. This will keep the roots from becoming exposed to harsh frost and will also keep them from drying out early come spring.
Like every other plant, trees need good watering. Try deep watering your trees in the spring and throughout our hot, Mid-South summer months. For a large tree, a 12 or 18-hour day of watering would not be too much during the summer. Just a light trickle during this timeframe is recommended.
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Quality Mulch Counts
All mulch is not created equal. You can certainly mulch a tree using its own leaves, but it’s a good idea to add in some other materials too, using a mulcher if you can. Try mixing a few types of leaves or bark and letting the mulch ripen a bit with some compost, manure or compost tea. Easy does it on the compost though. You don’t want too much.
Water the mulch for a couple of days to help the matter begin breaking down. It doesn’t have to be soggy, but it should be moist and dark. If there are worms in it, all the better!
Keep an eye out for mold beginning to grow and check the ph levels of your soil, amending them using mulch if you can. You may need to look for some light additives from the home and garden store to reach the desired the acid and phosphate levels.
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Mulch Is Not Fertilizer…Sort Of
Mulch Is Not Fertilizer…Sort Of Mulch has some nitrogen and a little bit of natural fertilizer in it. But many trees could use additional fertilizer as well. That said, you must be careful not to nitrogen-burn the roots of the tree. Consult with an arborist if you are fertilizing as well as mulching.
It may be necessary to time the mulch and fertilizer separately.
Mulch will add beneficial nutrients to the soil. But in general, it’s not as strong as fertilizer. So don’t overlook the importance of measured, well-timed fertilization. For younger trees and fruit trees especially, this can make a huge difference in both growth and the life of a tree.
Using Mulch To Amend Soil
You may find that you have a tree that is making it despite being planted in less than ideal soil. Of course, you can’t just rip up the tree and give it new dirt.
What you can do is slowly amend the soil using mulch and fertilizer. You may need to lighten the soil, add loam, reduce acidity, or increase moisture retention. You could also need more peat-like matter.
A gardening or landscape expert can help you take the exact measurements needed to properly customize your mulch. The idea is to create nutrients and matter that get worked into the soil via the roots of the tree over time.
Mulch is pretty powerful stuff. Keep pets out of it and monitor it carefully to make sure mold doesn’t develop. Mulch is meant to be aired out, watered down, and spread around. Otherwise, it can turn into a pile of musty leaves.
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