As record temperatures and humidity levels continue to stress us in Naperville, our lawns, gardens and trees remind us that they are suffering, as well. The beauty, shelter and value our outdoor investments add to our homes could be in danger this summer, as we continue to experience record breaking heat. You may wonder how to protect your trees, shrubs and flower beds. It’s not too late to reap the benefits of mulching. Adding a protective layer of mulch can go a long way to prevent the loss of your outdoor plantings.
Applied properly, mulch can add cooling insulation to plants, which will also carry over to protect them in the winter. Mulch will conserve water, as well, which is in short supply this summer. Most good mulch will add nutrients to the soil gradually as the mulch breaks down, which will help your plants thrive in the long run.
Mulching around trees is particularly beneficial, because it protects the base of the tree from possible lawn mower damage. Mulching also encourages earth worms and other beneficial garden visitors who will help feed your soil. Mulching shrubs and flower beds will also hold precious water longer for the plants. It will cool the soil around them, helping to prevent heat damage. It also inhibits the growth of weeds, which helps keep the gardener cool!
You need to be aware of a few things when choosing and applying mulch. Make sure you choose good quality, nutrient rich mulch, providing needed nutrients for your soil. Very dark mulches absorb the heat just as a dark shirt makes you feel warmer on a hot day. Opt for medium or lighter colored mulches. Medium textured mulches are usually best to encourage a low rate of breakdown while encouraging water absorption and retention.
The Proper Way to Mulch Around Trees
The way mulch is applied will make a big difference in the benefits it will reap for you. Around trees, it is important to use a “volcano” technique.
A “volcano” technique keeps the mulch away from the base of the tree, and builds the mulch up to about 3-4 inches away from the base. This discourages insect pests and diseases from infecting the base of the tree, while encouraging water retention and the other benefits of the mulch. This is the proper way to apply mulch to trees and shrubs.
How much mulch to apply? Ideally, mulch can be applied to extend to the tree’s drip line, although four or five feet in diameter is also very beneficial. In flower beds, a layer about three inches deep will keep weeds at bay, while holding water and nutrients close to the soil.
Applying mulch is hot, demanding work, and much care needs to be taken to do it properly. If you don’t want to break a sweat, call us at 630.355.3370 to schedule an appointment for us to apply your mulch! Taking the right steps now to protect your landscape will help you enjoy your outdoor plants and trees for years to come.