First-time homeowners who have trees on their property tend to skimp out on tree care. While trees are resilient, nature is brutal and can inflict damage on those trees in many ways. Mulching around your trees helps you avoid many problems and keep your trees healthy. If you need to rework the soil around your tree before mulching, you can search for “topsoil near me” and buy some from the nearest store. Let’s check out a few reasons to put mulch around your trees:
- Soil moisture is retained – During the day the ground gets hot from the sun and loses a lot of moisture at the upper levels. That leaves less water in the ground for trees. You can prevent this issue by mulching around the tree. Mulch can retain as much as 80 percent of moisture in the soil. This benefit is crucial for those who live in a dry climate where your water bill is more expensive.
Mulch is a bad conductor of heat and doesn’t allow the sun to heat the soil. This helps you preserve a lot of water and reduces your water bill. Even if you live in a wet climate, mulch can help the soil surrounding your trees from the impact of rainwater.
- Regulate temperature – While direct sunlight heats the soil, snow and chilly breeze cool it down drastically. Mulch acts as a layer of insulation between the soil and the environment. That’s why your soil won’t have to go through drastic temperature fluctuations in the summer heat and winter frost.
When soil temperatures don’t fluctuate very often, trees have an easier time absorbing nutrients. Otherwise, the roots have to constantly adjust to the temperature irregularities. It’s especially useful during the winter season when temperatures are low enough to freeze the soil. Mulch prevents that and helps your root stay active instead of going dormant. It is also very useful during the initial growing years of the tree. Mulch insulation helps the roots to grow and spread and this helps a lot in the long run.
- Lesser soil compaction – When soil particles are pressed together due to an external force, it reduces the tiny pressure inside the soil and ruins its structure. This reduces aeration and makes the soil denser. When this happens, the soil loses some of its water and air retention capabilities and roots have a harder time accessing those resources.
Mulching can eliminate this problem. Mulch, especially if it’s organic, can reduce the impact of natural elements like water, wind, snow, and debris to a great extent. It softens the impact of those elements and distributes the weight evenly on the soil to avoid compaction. Mulch is also helpful to prevent foot traffic-induced erosion. It acts as a visual barrier that lets people know which part of the yard they need to avoid. Even if people step on the mulch, the soil doesn’t get eroded. However, in this case, compaction is unavoidable.
- Restricts weed growth – Weed is disliked by everyone, even the most avid naturalists. They are invasive on your property and snatch away important resources like sunlight, water and nutrients from the plant. Weeds need sunlight to germinate on a bare patch of soil. However, if the soil is covered with mulch, weeds are deprived of sunlight and aren’t able to germinate and grow.
Even if weed seeds lay dormant in the soil, they stay that way when you cover the soil with mulch. However, you need to be careful with the layer of mulch. Don’t let the mulch layer sit over 3 inches above the soil. Otherwise, it will reduce aeration and deprive the soil of oxygen. When you cover the ground with mulch, new weed seeds also don’t have a place to land and eventually germinate.
Mulching prevents most weed varieties from ever coming in contact with the soil. Even if weed seeds germinate in those harsh conditions, they won’t be able to grow much. Two or three inches of mulch creates a lot of resistance for budding plant and weed varieties. That’s why the weed won’t have enough strength to push through the weed blocks and see daylight.
Moreover, if you use organic mulch, it can also hold carabid beetles and crickets that munch on weed seeds and weed plants.
- Enrich the soil – When you mulch around your trees make sure that you use organic mulch instead of a polycarbonate sheet. Organic mulch decays and breaks down over time and mixes into the soil. This adds nutrients to the soil surrounding the tree and boosts soil fertility.
Mulching the soil during late spring provides enough time for the soil to warm up and have higher microbial and worm activity that in turn increases the rate of mulch decomposition. While plastic sheet mulch is a cheap investment, organic mulch serves the purpose of mulch in the short term and fertilizer in the long term.
- Don’t apply too much mulch – While mulching has many benefits, excessive mulch can harm the tree. The most common example of too much mulching is a mulch volcano where the owner piles a lot of mulch surrounding the tree trunk.
When there’s a tall pile of mulch instead of a sufficiently thick layer a couple of inches from the base of the tree, it creates many problems. It girdles root systems where smaller roots wrap around a dominant root and choke it out. It also irritates the trunk and makes it susceptible to diseases and pest infestation. A pile of mulch is also the perfect spot for rodents to create nests and habitats. These critters then chew on the bark during the winter season when food is scarce.
As you can see, mulching has many benefits for trees and the soil surrounding them. You should also add mulch in moderation since excess mulching has undesirable effects. On the other hand, if you want to rework the soil or change it, you can search for “topsoil near me” and get it from a local store.