When performed correctly, mulching is one of the most simple and effective practices to maintain plant health, improve growth, and enhance vitality. Mulches provide many benefits including:
- Eliminating competition between tree roots and grass or other ground covering plants
- Eliminating the potential of damage to stems by mowers and strimmers
- Conserving soil moisture
- Moderating soil temperature
- Suppressing weed growth
- Improving soil organic matter
- Soil fertilisation
- Suppressing soil borne diseases
Organic mulches composed of wood chips, bark, leaves (including pine needles), and compost are all suitable mulches for woody and herbaceous landscape plants. Ideally, mulch should be applied beneath the entire canopy, although smaller mulched areas are suitable. Mulch depth does not have to exceed ten centimetres. Indeed five centimetres of mulch is adequate on shallow rooted shrubs and perennials. Mulch beds do not have to be round or symmetrical. Irregular designs may be more aesthetically pleasing. Shrubs and perennials can be planted within the mulched areas but solid masses of ground covers should be avoided where tree growth is desired.
Mulch should not be piled against stems of trees and shrubs. Stem tissues are not intended to remain constantly moist from mulch accumulation. Insect and disease infestations, as well as stem girdling roots often develop on trees with excessive mulching.