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Mulch Benefits

An application of shredded hardwood bark mulch around your trees and shrubs creates numerous benefits. Mulch conserves moisture in the soil and helps to lessen temperature fluctuations, thus protecting and nurturing the roots. It also serves as a light barrier to open soil, aiding in the prevention of weed seed germination. A ring of mulch around the base of your trees makes it unnecessary to mow against the tree trunk, preventing bark damage. The mulch should be applied to form a saucer around the tree with the mulch being thick (3”-4”) at the edge of the ring and thin (1/2”-1”) next to the trunk. Correct mulching does not include piling mulch directly up against the trunk as is commonly seen. This only promotes certain insect and disease problems.

The mulch ring diameter is always a question. The answer is debatable, but in general, the bigger the better. Ideally, the mulched area should continue well beyond the tree canopy. This allows the tree roots to capitalize on water, nutrients and air space without competition from turf. Most times this is not practical with trees in the home landscape, so tree rings are commonly 4’-8’ in diameter. We recommend shredded hardwood bark mulch for the following reasons:

  • Erosion Control
    The shredded material knits together to form a single layer.
  • Organic
    Non-toxic and adds nutrients to soil through decomposition.
  • Long lasting
    Native hardwoods of Red and White Oak decompose slowly.
  • Economical
    Available locally compared to exotics (Eucalyptus, Cocoa Shells, Cypress).
  • Color
    Dark brown color blends in well with most landscapes.
Does mulch attract termites and carpenter ants? Here’s what Dr. Rex Bastian, Ph.D.,
The Care of Trees, has to say about mulch in regards to pests.

In the upper Midwest, termites are seldom found living outside of structures because most winters are too cold for termites to survive except when associated with heated structures. For this reason, it is highly unlikely that termites would infest any type of wood mulching material used in the landscape.

Carpenter ants do not eat wood. They use decaying or solid wood as a base to build their tunnels in. A pile of wood chips does not have the structure necessary for carpenter ants to build a tunnel in. Be careful not to stack firewood near a building foundation. Carpenter ant colonies will establish themselves in log piles.

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