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How Mulch Can Really Help Your Trees Thrive

How Mulch Can Really Help Your Trees Thrive

Is mulch the secret ingredient to healthy trees? It definitely helps. Mulch is a material that is primarily made of wood chips, but can contain a blend of other composted materials like grass clippings and leaves. People often perceive its use as strictly aesthetic, but it actually provides a number of benefits for a tree and specifically the root system.

Because roots are under the surface, their importance to tree health is often underestimated. Roots are responsible for a large part of water and nutrient uptake as well as water storage. Mulch keeps soils more temperate, reducing cold exposure as well as drastic fluctuations from chinooks, which can lead to frost cracks and possibly root kill.

Mulch can shelter the roots from salt and ice melt in the winter, a common cause of trees declining in early spring as they come out of dormancy in soils with high salinity (read more about spring watering). A mulched well around the trunk also helps keep away lawn maintenance equipment like mowers and trimmers from the stem, eliminating the possibility of physical damage from equipment which can girdle the tree.

Mulch aids with soil moisture retention by sheltering the soil and slowing evaporation, making more water available for the roots. This leads to a more economical and sustainable watering schedule and resilience through drought. It also prevents compaction (most often from foot traffic), allowing for more oxygen and air pockets under the surface. Mulch contains a number of nutrients that are slowly released and become available for the root system and tree.

Topping up the mulch under a tree every few years with a high-nutrient compost blend of mulch will optimize these benefits and help keep a property looking sharp.

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