There are a number of advantages to mulching the soil around trees and shrubs. For best results, it is important to choose good-quality organic mulch and to follow a few simple rules.
- it conserves soil moisture;
- it controls weeds;
- it moderates variations in soil temperature;
- it adds nutrients and organic matter as it decomposes (if you use organic mulch);
- it prevents erosion and prevents a crust from forming on the soil surface;
- it protects the trunk from lawn mower and edge trimmer damage;
- it protects the roots when there is not enough snow cover;
- it improves the appearance of planting sites;
- it provides shelter for helpful organisms in the garden and stimulates the soil's biological life;
- It is best to use organic mulch. Examples are : ramial chipped wood, shredded bark (such as cedar or hemlock mulch), wood chips, forest mulch, shredded dead leaves, buckwheat hulls, etc.;
- Avoid using decorative stones and geotextile cloth and membranes, which interfere with gas exchanges between the soil and air;
- Make sure that the mulch doesn’t contain any toxin;
- Note that very light mulches can be scattered by the wind in exposed areas.
- Apply a layer of mulch 8 to 15 cm thick before it settles;
- Be careful not to stir the mulch into the soil;
- To prevent decay, keep the mulch 10 to 15 cm away from the collar on the trunk;
- Water the soil before mulching, then water the mulch to keep it in place.