Mulch should be applied when you plant trees and shrubs and replenished as needed
throughout the life of the plants. The mulch material can be organic, such as shredded bark,
wood chips, compost, pine needles or, can be inorganic, like stone, or plastic or synthetic fabric
mats which are often called weed-barrier mats.
Mulches, whether organic or inorganic, provide the following benefits:
1. They help conserve water by retarding soil moisture evaporation. This is
critical during hot dry weather especially where frequent watering is not
possible or practical.
2. Mulch helps moderate winter soil temperatures, especially when snow
cover is lacking.
3. Mulch keeps the soil temperature from rising too high in the summer.
4. It helps keep lawn grass from competing with trees and shrubs for soil
moisture and nutrients.
5. It can help prevent damage to plants from lawn mowers and weed whips,
which can bang and scrape trunks and stems or debark and girdle thin-barked trees and shrubs.
6. Mulches also help reduce landscape maintenance by eliminating grass in
awkward areas between plants and other landscape structures.
7. An attractive, well-maintained mulch gives a landscape a finished,
Applying mulch is easy. Mulch a four foot diameter circle around new trees and shrubs,
and increase the circle as the plants grow. The root systems of plants extend beyond the
branches of established trees and shrubs. The mulched area should be enlarged as the plant
grows to provide the most benefit. Organic mulches should be applied 3-4 inches thick.
Inorganic mulches such as plastic or synthetic fabrics should be covered with stones or other
materials to prevent them from blowing. In both cases keep mulch a few inches away from the
trunks of trees and shrubs. Mounding mulch around the trunks of trees and shrubs is not
recommended and will result in insect, rodent and/or disease problems.