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.
- 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%!
- 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.
- 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.