Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mulching- Not Always a Good Practice

A generation of gardeners have extolled the benefits of mulching around trees and flower beds. Sometimes, mulching is not a good practice.

Often, a heavy clay soil retains too much moisture over the winter months. Some dryland perennials, such as cheddar pinks (dianthus), euphorbia, and delospermum, prefer dry to moderately wet winter soils. Amending with coarse sand improves soil drainage, but adding mulch may be counter-productive.

Quality mulch contains very little cellulose (wood) fiber. A wood based mulch attracts structural wood -feeding insects such as termites, carpenter ants, and wood beetles. Wood-based mulches should not be spread around home foundations.

Fresh wood-based mulch grabs up available soil nitrogen. Nitrogen -starved plants appear yellowed (chlorotic). You may need to apply 2-4 times the amount of fertilizer to counteract the wood mulch.

Piling up mulch around the base of trees, called "mulch volcanoes", will damage tree trunks. Surface roots are deprived of oxygen. Often, weak adventitious roots grow in the mulch. When the mulch dries out, the weak roots die and scar the trunk.

Young fruit trees should not be mulched in the fall and winter where field mice (voles) are suspected. The voles create a home in the mulch and feed on live roots and soft tree bark.

No comments:

Post a Comment