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Mulch

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Yew (Taxus x media 'Densi-Gem')
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Lise Servant)  

There are a number of advantages to mulching the soil after planting your tree or shrub. For best results, it is important to choose good-quality mulch and to follow a few simple rules.

Why mulch?

  • it conserves soil moisture
  • it controls weeds and other competing vegetation, including grass
  • it buffers soil temperature extremes
  • it adds nutrients and organic matter as it decomposes (if you use organic mulch)
  • it prevents erosion and prevents a crust from forming on the soil surface
  • it protects the roots when there is not enough snow cover
  • it improves the appearance of planting sites
  • it protects the trunk from lawnmower and edge trimmer damage
  • it provides shelter for helpful insects
  • it can improve root volume by up to 400%!

Choosing mulch

  • It is best to use organic mulch (shredded bark, wood chips, buckwheat hulls, etc.).
  • Avoid using decorative stones and geotextile cloth and membranes, which interfere with gas exchanges between the soil and air.
  • Make sure that the mulch doesn’t contain any toxins and has a suitable pH.
  • Don’t use materials that are too light; they could be blown off.

Applying mulch

  • Apply a layer of mulch 8 to 15 cm thick before it settles. If you are using hardwood bark, 5 cm is enough.
  • Be careful not to stir the mulch into the soil.
  • To prevent decay, keep the mulch 10 to 15 cm away from the collar on the trunk.
  • Water the mulch to keep it in place.

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