May 11, 2015

Mulching is considered one of the most beneficial methods of improving tree health, whatever the season.

Mulches are materials which are distributed over the surface of the soil, primarily to improve the condition of the soil and to maintain the moisture within it. Mulch is a by-product of our tree operations. Parts of – or in some cases – all the tree is chipped up by the tree crew at the job site. It is returned to our plant in Norcross where we regrind it, screen it and can darken it to improve its appearance.

At 404-CUT-TREE our mulch is available for delivery and optionally installation in Atlanta, Duluth, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Roswell and the entire north metro area, and we are considered one of Atlanta’s premier brown mulch providers. As such, we can provide advice on all mulch related issues including calculating volumes and installation.

There are two major types of mulch available – inorganic and organic. Inorganic usually includes types of stone and rock which, though won’t need to be replaced often because they don’t decompose, do little for the soil. They certainly don’t provide nutrients.  There are other reasons not to use inorganic mulches including adverse heat effects and negative effects on soil chemistry which can be caused by rain eroding rock mulch.

Most gardeners, arborists and landscapers prefer organic mulches. Bark, leaves, compost materials and wood chips are typically found in this type of mulch. The type of mulch we make and sell is organic, created from ground-up trees.   Used properly the benefits are significant, but it’s important, however, to get the practice right. Too much mulch can be harmful. Recommended mulching depth is up to four inches; piling up any higher than that can cause root issues.

Deep mulch can lead to excess moisture in and around the roots, which can stress the plant and cause root rot.  Mulch is great for the roots of trees but not for the bark, as it can cause fungus. Keep it well away.  Piling mulch up against the trunk of trees can stress stem tissues, encourage attack by insect predators, and lead to the development of disease problems. Around trees, place mulch to the edge of the tree’s crown (the drip line) and maintain the appearance by periodic raking.

In Atlanta pine straw is very popular organic mulch.  While it is effective in keeping down weeds and it generally has a good appearance, it offers nothing nutritionally to the soil, nor does it aid in de-compaction.

Assuming you have observed the guidelines and recommendations on quantity and depth, mulching can provide a range of benefits. Essentially, it reduces soil moisture loss, helps to control weed growth, improves the biology and fertility of soil, limits the occurrence and spread of some plant diseases, and of utmost importance, it naturally de-compacts soil.  In addition, mulching creates an aesthetically pleasing effect too on flower beds, making them look smart and cared for.

In winter, mulch insulates the soil, protecting the roots of trees from extreme temperatures in the winter (as well as the opposite end of the spectrum, in the summer). It’s not just prolonged spells of cold or below freezing temperatures which can be troublesome – frost heaving can occur when the soil expands and contracts as it alternately heats up and cools, and this can cause bark cracking.

For more information on figuring mulch costs and volume needed, please check out our online mulch calculator by clicking here – contact us and we’ll be happy to help.