Five Advantages of Mulching Your Trees and Shrubs Through the Winter Months
Posted on January 6, 2023 by Van Becelaere Greenhouse
Mulch is as fundamental to landscaping as it is to gardening. As a naturally occurring material, cultivating advocates, like arborists, horticulturists, and home gardeners, claim there are five advantages to mulching trees and shrubs:
- Ground moisture control
- Provides root protection
- Slows weed growth
- Prevents erosion processes
- Protects against disease spread
What is Mulch?
Before diving right into these advantages of mulch, let’s briefly define mulch and what makes for good cultivating ingredients. In simple terms, the mulch found on a forest floor is nothing more than fallen leaves or plant debris that covers the area.
In a garden, ideal ingredients originate from compost piles and animal or plant manures. Mulch ingredients are going to be your:
- Pine straw or pine needles
- Ground cypress bark
- Pine bark
Ground Moisture Control
Soil covered by nutrient rich bark layer or some other cultivator provides an insulating layer that protects the ground soil, and plant roots from freeze and thaw cycles, which cause frost heaves. One of the biggest proponents for using a layer of ground wood chips is to help regulate soil moisture by preventing the soil surface from drying out and cracking, which can leads to surface runoff.
Provides Root Protection
When winter temperatures fall dangerously low, like most of the U. S. experienced over Christmas weekend, mulch proves beneficial to tree and shrub roots. That same mulch can also prevent the ground soil from drying too much during those scorching hot summer temperatures.
Slows Weed Growth
Weed growth also gets stunted by a layer of mulch. Because weeds need sunlight to grow, mulch protects the soil from overexposure to the sun, making it difficult for weeds to mature.
By removing the grass from around the trunk of a tree to expose the soil and then covering that soil with mulch, you reduce the chances of weeds growing around the tree trunk. Mulch also continues to break down to supply the soil nutrients the tree roots need to support tree growth.
Prevents Erosion Processes
It improves soil structure for clay soils while increasing the moisture content of the ground, which is particularly important to newly planted trees or shrubs—laying down a layer of mulch shields the topsoil from erosion processes caused by raindrops and runoff that cause sheet erosion.
Protects Against Disease Spread
Mulch keeps soils stationary when wet or dry from spreading fungal or bacterial diseases to the leaves of trees or bushes. But be careful not over do it with the mulch around the base of woody shrubs or trees. A layer of mulch no deeper than 2 to 3 inches is enough.
It’s also best to be mindful of snails, tunneling rodents, and slugs that can take up residence around the base of woody plants. You can use a diatomaceous Earth, which is nothing more than fossilized remains of aquatic micro-organisms known as diatoms (algae).
Contact Your Local Garden Center in Pittsburg, Kansas
Like many home gardeners, you’ve probably begun stocking up on garden supplies for the upcoming 2023 growing season. Your best local choice for garden supplies and education is the friendly staff at the Van Becelaere Greenhouse in Pittsburg, Kansas.
They carry many houseplants, trees, shrubs, and seedlings. If you are looking for a feed store or a new lawn mower, the team at Van Becelaere can help. Stop in Monday through Saturday anytime between 8:00 am to 5:00 pm at 2513 E. 4th Street in Pittsburg, Kansas, or call them if you have any questions at (620) 231-1127.