The Benefits of Mulching A Tree

Caring for your own trees is fun and can be very rewarding.  Often it is the simplest actions that can have the greatest effect.  Mulching around the base of your trees has many benefits for their health and is simple to do.  This blog will talk about some of these benefits and how to mulch your trees effectively.

The majority of tree management focuses on the above ground portion of the tree, for obvious reasons; that is the bit you can see and the one which may be blocking your light or rubbing on your house.  However, it the part of the tree you cannot see, the roots below the ground, that have the most impact on overall tree health. 

Some trees get a rough deal

Some trees get a rough deal

Trees evolved in forests where they had access to good quality soils with plenty of decomposing organic material.  There are no lawns, concrete or paving in the forest.  These man made features drastically reduce the water and nutrients available to trees in the domestic environment.

Good quality wood mulch will be made up of decomposing wood chip and leaves.  This mimics the forest floor environment that trees evolved with.  As the wood mulch breaks down it releases nutrients at a rate that can be absorbed by the tree.  The wood mulch also provides food for fungi that form relationships with the tree’s root system in which they both help each other. 

A correctly mulched tree

A correctly mulched tree

Wood mulch helps to retain moisture in the soil during dry periods and it also helps to suppress weeds that are in competition with the tree.  Wood mulch around the base of the tree lessens the need to weed eat or mow around the trunk or on the roots so they have less chance of being damaged.  Earthworms love this type of environment too and they will naturally aerate and improve the soil around your tree as they go about their business.

If the space allows it, extend the clear area beneath your tree as far as possible.  Carefully strip back any grass or weeds without damaging surface roots.  Spread the wood mulch to approximately 50mm in depth.  Too little and you wont realise the benefit, too much and you might “cook” the root system with the heat that is generated from the decomposing wood mulch. 

The wood mulch will need topping up from time to time as it breaks down.  Good sources for wood mulch can be Arborists or landscape suppliers.  Ideally, have a pile in the corner of the garden rotting away that you can use as and when you need it.

For more information about mulching see the following link

http://www.treesaregood.com/treecare/resources/propermulching.pdf