August 21st, 2009
Mulch is a magical, multifunctional thing. It conserves soil moisture, protects plant roots, prevents erosion and over time, leads to more workable, healthy soil. So why isn’t that we don’t see it around every tree and beneath every shrub? I see a lot of bare, hard earth in gardens full of struggling plants. I am here to spread the gospel of mulch.
Mulch is any material placed on top of soil. When we talk about mulch for gardens we most often mean wood chips. But mulch can be leaves, wood chips, ground up rubber, shredded bark or even plastic sheets. You have probably seen the black plastic sheets used as a mulch in strawberry fields.
When I go to spruce up a landscape the first thing I usually do after weeding and trimming is spread a nice, thick layer of mulch. In a matter of hours a garden that looked tired and weedy becomes tidy and beautiful. The mulch makes the space between the plants more defined and the color of the wood chips contrasts nicely with the colors of the plants it surrounds.
Mulch promotes living, healthy soil. If you scrape off a handful of mulch you will find rich, dark soil full of bugs and microorganisms. You won’t find that in uncovered soil baked in the unrelenting Southern California sun. I work with a lot of fruit trees and too often see sad trees with no mulch around them. Citrus and avocado trees have rather shallow root systems so they do notably better under a layer of protective mulch. But nearly any plant benefits from a protective layer of mulch. When mulching around trees do not let the mulch actually touch the trunk. Leave a two to three inch space around the trunk of the tree. Then spread several inches of mulch out beneath the canopy of the tree.
So I recommend you get mulching. You can buy bagged wood chips at any nursery or garden supply store. Local tree trimmers are often willing to drop off large quantities of wood chips for free. This is a great option if you need a large amount of mulch and aren’t too picky about the type or color of wood chips.
Mulching a garden is a service that Full Circle provides as well. We are always happy to spread more mulch.