The trees in our urban environment are stressed due to a variety of reasons, one of which including mowed and meticulously manicured lawns resulting in a lack of natural organic matter cycling through the soil. This lack of organic matter depletes the structure and nutrient availability of the soil. To combat this and improve the health of the soil for your trees, arborists have methods to resolve these issues.
One of those methods is installing a wood or leaf mulch around your trees. A wood or leaf mulch will provide a multitude of benefits to your trees and landscape beds. These benefits include soil temperature management, nutrients through decomposition, water retention, physical protection from foot traffic or lawn mowing equipment and much more. The best case is to place the mulch as a ring around your tree, about 2”-3” deep out to the dripline (edge of outer reaching branches) of the tree. Avoid any mulch from being pile up against the trunk of the tree, leave about 3” of space or as best as possible. The mulch should not be mounded up against the trunk resulting in what is often referred to as “volcano mulch”. Volcano mulching can essentially choke the tree and cause decline as well as create a beneficial environment for harmful wood decay fungi.
The benefit we will focus on here is nutrient enrichment to the soil. In a natural setting, trees have all the vegetative material (leaves, grass, twigs, etc.) falling on the ground and continually decomposing over time. As that material decomposes over time, the nutrients in it become incorporated into the soil and then available for the tree to take up. In forestry, you will often hear this partially decomposed material on the ground be referred to as the duff layer. If you walk out into the woods right now, you will literally walk on this duff layer. As you walk through the woods, the ground feels a bit spongy and soft, that is the duff layer.
In our urban environments, we often lack a duff layer because we plant trees in mowed lawns or areas that are continually manicured and cleared of vegetative material. Applying mulch around our trees helps to replace this lack of a natural duff layer. The mulch breaks down much like the vegetative material in a natural setting which helps to improve the organic content of the soil which improves the structure and nutrient availability in the soil for our urban trees.
In addition to these biological benefits, mulch also provides a beautiful aesthetic enhancement of your trees and landscape. Most mulch is brown, but there are dyed options out there as well. The color of the mulch can present a beautiful contrast to the surrounding colors in your landscape and make your trees, landscape and home all stand out and improve your curb appeal.
We have a variety of wood mulches and an excellent leaf mulch to help enhance our urban forest. We have three dyed mulch products and one non-dyed wood mulch. All materials are locally sourced and the dye is non-toxic coloring agent, we have two versions of brown (light and dark) and then a red mulch as well.
Whatever your desire is for your landscape, adding a natural mulch around your trees and in your landscape beds will improve the health and vigor of your trees and plants. Utilizing locally sourced mulch products will help reduce carbon emissions into our environment and help recycle our local wood waste stream.
Sustainable nutrient cycling is the key and we appreciate our clients’ dedication to enhancing our urban forest! Join the movement and help promote professional arboriculture!