An extract from Time for Trees – edition 04 written by our managing director, Mike Glover.
A good width of organic mulch around a newly planted tree is a great way of keeping competitive weed growth at bay and creating a buffer zone of retained moisture at soil level.
Ground based organisms travel up through the soil and into the mulch to feed before returning, keeping the top of the soil moist. A mulch also gives a wealth of fungal activity, re-creating an abundance of balanced activity associated with woodland floors.
Trees have evolved to thrive with this balance in place. But we have a tendency to spoil this party. So often I see trees surrounded with decorative rocks, coloured stone chips, an array of plastic liners, decking or even concrete, paving slabs, or tarmac. These non-organic coverings can entomb a tree to a life of slow failure. They can deprive the soil of water, killing off the balancing life in the soil that a tree needs to thrive. They are sterile, not organic, the opposite to a woodland floor. They can reflect both heat and light back into the canopy of the tree with scorching effects. Trees haven’t evolved with these inorganic decorations so it’s not surprising they do poorly under such circumstances. Trees don’t want hygiene, they want a balanced blend of organisms to support them.
Mulch is definitely the way to go but there can be too much of a good thing. Somewhere around four to six centimetres of mulch spread over a metre diameter and pulled out from around the trunk of the tree is enough to do the job. This will need topping up every season as it degrades. It is tempting to put a greater depth of mulch on but again, beware of deviating away from what nature intended.
The closer we can mimic nature the more your trees will thrive.
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