Benefits of Installing Mulch
Installing mulch is one of the best things you can do for the health of trees and shrubs. When placed on the soil surface, mulch improves the soil, minimizes weeds, regulates temperature, prevents erosion and adjusts the amount of moisture available to roots. Plus, it adds a tailored look to your property, giving your lawn a groomed, finished look.
Think about trees in their natural forest environment. The soil has a blanket of leaves and other organic stuff, which is decomposing, providing the soil with a constant source of nutrients. This top blanket prevents the soil from compacting, so it remains properly aerated. Those are happy roots!
Think about our urban and suburban lives. Poor soil; unnatural fluctuations in heat and moisture; we rake up our leaves and cover the soil with concrete. We walk on the lawn, compressing the soil and squeezing out the air. Even worse, the tree canopy shades the lawn causing it to die. When rain strikes the bare spots, it strips out the humus and compacts the soil. We cut the trunk accidentally with a “weed whacker” and nick the bark with a lawn mower. Grass roots compete with tree roots for moisture and nutrients, and usually win. It’s harsh for trees. We want to give them all the help we can, especially when they are young.
Improve Your Soil
Mulch actually improves the soil! As mulch decomposes it adds humus and micro-nutrients to the soil. Additionally, studies have shown that the tree roots below mulch tend to have very high mycorrhiza colonies. In fact, after several years, your trees may no longer need soil injections of mycorrhiza (a beneficial fungus which occurs naturally in a forest setting, but is normally missing in urban forest settings). The presence of mycorrhiza dramatically increases root efficiency.
Mulch encourages the presence of earthworms which improve soil structure and add nutrients.
But possibly the best reason for mulching your landscape beds is it looks terrific!