How deep should mulch be around trees


Mulching Landscape Trees

Mulches can also improve soil structure and fertility. This is important in urban landscapes where soils are often compacted and lack organic matter, especially on new construction sites.

Mulching mimics the natural environment found in forests where leaves and branches blanket the soil surface, replenishing nutrients as they decompose and creating an ideal environment for root growth. Urban landscape trees and shrubs typically grow in much harsher environments with soils modified by human activities (e.g., construction, lawns, and compaction). A 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch can re-create aspects of a forest's soil environment. According to the International Society of Arboriculture, mulching, when done correctly, is one of the most beneficial practices a homeowner can do for the health of a tree or shrub.

Mulches are available in two major forms, organic and inorganic. Tree care professionals prefer organic mulches, such as wood chips, pine needles, hardwood and softwood bark, cocoa hulls, leaves, and compost mixes, since they decompose, improving soil structure and increasing soil fertility. The various organic mulches decompose at different rates and require periodic reapplication. Inorganic mulches, such as gravel, stone chips, river rock, and rubber, do not provide the same benefits as organic mulches as they do not decompose.

The benefits of proper mulching include the following:

  • Conserves soil moisture by increasing water infiltration and slowing evaporation
  • Improves soil structure, fertility, and aeration as it decomposes
  • Moderates soil temperature, protecting roots from extreme summer and winter temperatures
  • Eliminates potential tree damage from mowers and trimmers
  • Prevents soil compaction by reducing foot and vehicle traffic, allowing roots to “breathe"
  • Impedes growth of weeds and grass that compete with tree roots for water and nutrients

Inorganic mulches, such as this stone, do not provide the same benefits as organic mulches like bark and wood chips

The benefits of mulching are well documented. However, excessive or improperly applied mulch can adversely affect plants. The International Society of Arboriculture advises to apply mulch properly; if it is too deep, piled against the trunk of the tree, or the wrong material, it can cause significant harm to trees.

Proper Mulching Method

  • Organic mulches are preferable due to their soil-enhancing qualities. Hardwood bark makes very good, inexpensive mulch, especially when it contains a blend of bark, wood, and leaves.
  • Mulch can be applied to landscape trees at just about any time of the year. However, the best time to apply mulch is in the middle of spring, once soil temperatures have warmed enough for root growth to begin.
  • Mulch as much of the area as possible, preferably to the outermost edge of the tree's canopy, referred to as the “drip line." Keep in mind, the drip line moves out as the tree grows.
  • Apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch and no more; use less if the soil is poorly drained. More than 4 inches may harm the tree's root system. If using finely textured or double-shredded mulch, use 1 to 2 inches since these materials allow less oxygen through to the root zone.
  • For tree health, keep all mulch material away from the trunk. Allow the root flare (where the trunk meets the soil) to show. The root flare is at or near the ground line and is identifiable as a marked swelling of the tree's trunk where roots begin to extend outward.

This is a properly mulched tree. Note the mulch is only a few inches deep, not mounded around the trunk. The root flare is visible and the mulch extends to the edge of the tree's crown, or the drip line.

Other tips

  • Finely shredded mulches decompose faster and require replenishing more often.
  • Before replenishing the mulch each season, check the depth. Some old mulch may need to be removed before adding a new layer.
  • Applying new mulch over old mulch in successive years is the same as applying too deep a layer all at once.
  • The appearance of old mulch can be “refreshed" by breaking up any matted layers by hand or with a rake.

On newly planted trees, mulch more than just the root ball. The goal is to promote root development away from the tree. Mulch wide, not deep.

Avoid Overmulching

Overmulching landscape trees is common. This is most obvious when mulch extends up the trunk, smothering the root flare and root zone. This practice, known as “volcano" mulching, is never recommended and should not be utilized. As beneficial as mulch is, too much mulch is harmful. Deep mulch may suppress weeds, but it wastes time and money and can cause major health problems that lead to tree decline and possibly death.

Avoid piling mulch in the appearance of a volcano cone around trees. Volcano mulching, or piling mulch against the trunk, can cause major tree health problems.

Problems Associated with Overmulching

  • Oxygen starvation and root suffocation. Tree roots need oxygen to grow and function properly. When too much mulch covers the soil surface, air may not penetrate the mulch layer and the underlying soil becomes depleted of oxygen. In addition, excessively deep mulch can inhibit water loss through evaporation. Once soil pore spaces become filled with water, diffusion of oxygen into the soil is essentially blocked. When soil oxygen levels drop too low, root growth declines, making it impossible for the plant to take up water and nutrients. Plant death may result if too many roots decline.
  • Inner bark death. The inner bark, also called the phloem, carries photosynthates produced by the leaves to the rest of the tree. When mulch covers the root flare and trunk tissues, they stay constantly wet. This tissue is much different from root tissue and cannot survive under these conditions. Continuous moisture also interferes with respiration by limiting gas (oxygen and carbon dioxide) exchange between living cells in the trunk and the atmosphere. If wet conditions continue long enough, phloem tissue dies and roots are starved of essential carbohydrates.
  • Disease. Most fungal and bacterial diseases require moisture to grow and reproduce. Overmulching creates conditions where trunk diseases can gain entry through constantly wet, decaying bark, especially if there are trunk wounds under the mulch. Once established, these plant pathogens can cause fungal cankers and root rots. Cankers caused by these diseases can encircle the tree, killing the inner bark, ultimately starving the roots, and possibly killing the tree.
  • Insects. Mulch piled against the trunk favors moisture-loving insects, such as carpenter ants and termites, which could colonize and expand decayed areas of the trunk.
  • Rodent damage. Voles and mice may tunnel under deep layers of mulch for shelter. These pests may gnaw on the nutritious inner bark of young trees, girdling the stem. If girdling is extensive, tree death may result. This often goes unnoticed until the following spring when the tree doesn't leaf out.
  • Excessive heat. Similar to composting, thick layers of wet mulch may heat up once decomposition begins. Temperatures within mulch piles may reach as high as 140 degrees. This high heat may directly kill the inner bark/phloem of young trees or delay the natural hardening-off period that plants must go through in preparation for winter.

Correcting Overmulched Trees

If you believe you have a problem with overmulched trees, carefully dig with a hand trowel to assess mulch depth. Remember, 2 to 4 inches of mulch is sufficient on well-drained soils, less on poorly drained soils. A light raking of existing mulch may be all that is necessary to freshen old mulch and break through the crusted or compacted layers that can develop.

If mulch is piled against the trunk of the tree, visually look for the presence of the root flare where the tree meets the soil line. If the flare is buried, it is essential to uncover it. Begin by carefully pulling mulch back from the tree's trunk until the root flare is exposed, taking care not to damage the bark. A good rule of thumb is to pull mulch 3 to 5 inches away from young trees and 8 to 10 inches away from mature trees. Spread excess mulch evenly out to the tree's drip line, checking to ensure the depth does not exceed 4 inches. Research has shown that most trees respond rapidly with improved color and vigor once the root flare is exposed and excess mulch is redistributed.

Below is a series of photos showing where excessive mulch was pulled back from the trunk of a young red maple and redistributed to the tree's drip line. No mulch was removed from the site; it was simply spread out to the proper depth and kept from directly touching the tree's trunk. It is important to note that the amount of mulch used to create the mulch “volcano" was sufficient to properly mulch the tree.

Excessively mulched tree with mulch piled against trunk.

Hand trowel used to pull mulch back and redistribute.

Tape marking the original depth of the mulch.

Excess mulch spread evenly, 2–4 inches deep, out to tree's drip line.

Mulch pulled back from trunk, exposing the root flare.

Tree properly mulched using the same amount of mulch.

A word of caution: you may want to consult with a certified arborist before proceeding with any root flare excavations. Trees are often planted too deep and may have the root flare buried under soil rather than just excess mulch.

In Summary

  • Mulch out, not up! No deeper than the heel of your hand, generally 2-4 inches. Mulch less if soil is poorly drained or using finely textured mulch.
  • Back off from the trunk! Keep all mulch away from the trunk of the tree, allowing the root flare to show just above ground level.
  • Mulch to the tree's drip line, if possible! Remember, the drip line moves out as the tree grows.
  • Go organic! Arborists recommend organic mulches. They provide tree health benefits as they decompose.
  • Keep the trunk dry and the roots moist!

Mulching Trees and Shrubs | The Morton Arboretum

Content Detail

Mulching plants is both functional and decorative. Mulch typically is an organic material spread on the soil surface to protect roots from heat, cold, and drought, and to provide nutrients to plants as it decomposes. Once you have chosen the right plant for a given site and followed the proper planting procedures, you should mulch the plant and create a stable environment for root growth.

What makes good mulch? Several factors should be considered when choosing mulch:

Texture. Medium-textured mulch is best. Fine particles tend to pack down and retain moisture, which then evaporates before reaching plant roots. Coarse-textured materials may be too porous to hold adequate amounts of water.

Nutrient value. Organic mulch provides nutrient- rich humus as it decomposes. This also improves soil structure.

Availability. Consider the availability of different mulch material and whether you have to haul it yourself. Bulk materials may be available free from your community.

Aesthetics. The type of mulch used is a personal preference. Choose for yourself the look you desire. The Morton Arboretum uses organic mulches because of their many plant benefits. Ideally, organic mulch should be composted or otherwise treated before use so that weed seeds, insects, and disease microorganisms are killed. Composted mulch generally has more uniform texture than mulch that is not composted. Composting is probably not needed for disease and insect control if the mulch is derived from healthy plants; however, if it has been sitting outside indefinitely it is likely that weed seeds are present.

Grass clippings. Dry or compost before using. Mix them with other materials to increase porosity and reduce matting. Grass is a source for some nitrogen but also has higher alkalinity, which may compromise nutrition.

Hardwood bark. Pine bark or shredded bark can be purchased as bags of small or large chips. It’s long-lasting.

Hardwood chips. These are readily available and often free from municipal sources.

Composted leaf litter (leaf mold). While a good source of nutrients, it may increase weeds if not thoroughly composted.

Animal manure. A good source of nutrients. Compost before applying or plant damage (burn) may result due to high salt content. Ideally, it should be mixed with a coarse-textured material.

Mushroom compost. A good source of nutrients when mixed with soil or other materials. Alone it has high alkalinity and sometimes salts.

Peat moss. Compacts easily due to fine texture and dries out quickly; it’s best mixed with soil and other materials. It’s not recommended as a top dressing because water will not penetrate when it’s dry.

Pine boughs. This is a good covering for perennials in the winter.

Pine needles. Not widely available; needles should be mixed with other materials unless soil acidity is desired.

Sawdust. Compost first or mix with a nitrogen source (manure and/or fertilizer) before applying. Oak sawdust helps acidify soil and is good for azaleas, rhododendrons, and blueberries. Do not use sawdust from treated lumber.

Sewage sludge. A good source of nutrients. Composted sludge is available commercially (for example, Milorganite or Nutricomp) and should be incorporated with soil or mixed with other composted material.

Shredded leaves. Leaves are variable in texture and can be collected and shredded at home. Mix them into the soil in the fall and allow them to break down naturally during the winter for improved soil quality.

Straw. Coarse-textured, straw persists a long time, but it can blow away easily unless mixed with other materials. Although generally not suitable as a landscape mulch, it provides winter protection and is a good cover for grass seed.

Spread mulch under trees, shrubs, and throughout planting beds to a recommended depth of 3 to 4 inches for medium- to coarse-textured materials.

Pull mulch away from the bases of tree and shrub trunks, creating a donut-hole (image on left). Do not pile it up against the trunk (“volcano mulching”). Excessive mulch on the trunk causes moisture to build up, creating ideal conditions for insect pests, diseases, and decay (image on right).

Ideally, the mulched area around a tree should extend to the drip line of the branches, or at least cover a 4- to 5-foot diameter area around the trunk. The larger the mulched area, the more beneficial.

Check the mulch depth annually and replenish as necessary.

 

Correct mulching on left, incorrect mulching on right

Provides an insulation layer. Mulched soils are warmer in winter and cooler in summer than bare soils. Roots are protected from temperature extremes, creating less freezing and thawing of the soil in winter, which can heave and injure plants.

Conserves soil moisture. Bare soil surfaces heat up in summer, causing water evaporation and sometimes root desiccation and death. A layer of mulch reduces moisture loss by preventing sunlight from reaching and heating the soil. Mulch also insulates the soil moisture from evaporation by wind. Less watering is required during high summer temperatures.

Improves the soil’s physical structure and fertility. As mulch breaks down it adds humus to the soil, increasing organic matter in the surface of heavy clay soils, improving the water-holding capacity of light, sandy soils, and slowly releasing nitrogen and phosphorous into the soil.

Prevents erosion and water runoff. Bare soil disperses or breaks apart when impacted by rain or sprinkler droplets. Mulch protects soil from being eroded and reduces water runoff by providing a “sponge” surface that slows and absorbs water.

Reduces root competition. In the Midwest, most of a tree’s fine roots are in the upper 12 to 18 inches of soil. Applying mulch under trees and shrubs eliminates competition from other plants for water and nutrients. Turf roots are especially aggressive and pose the largest threat of competition to trees and shrubs. Create a “living” mulch by using plants that are more compatible with tree roots: bulbs, wildflowers, ferns, ground covers, and other herbaceous perennials.

Additional benefits of mulch. Mulch creates a safety zone around trunks, protecting them from lawnmower damage; recycles yard and landscape waste; offers a more natural appearance to the landscape; and provides a favorable environment for earthworms and other organisms that benefit soil structure and fertility.

Problems may arise if mulch is used incorrectly. Too much mulch can be harmful. Consider the following points to make an informed choice and avoid problems:

Creates a barrier to oxygen and water. Plastic mulch or weed barriers prevent oxygen and water from penetrating the soil and should not be used unless they are porous.

Excessive moisture. Fine-textured mulch, such as peat moss, grass clippings, and sawdust, holds a lot of moisture and should be used only in mixtures with coarser materials.

Heat injury. Dark-colored mulches absorb heat during the day and lose heat at night as surrounding air temperatures fall. This heat may sometimes injure succulent plant tissue.

Root collar rot. Excessive mulch mounded around the base of a tree can cause decay of the vital tissue at the root collar. Once decayed, serious disease organisms may more readily enter the plant.

Soil temperatures. If applying mulch as winter protection, avoid applying it too early in the fall, since mulch can delay the soil freezing process by retaining heat in the soil. Furthermore, if applied too early in the spring, mulch can inhibit soil warming and delay root growth. As a general rule, wait until after a hard frost in the fall to apply winter mulch and after the last frost in spring to apply summer mulch.

Weed seeds. Some types of organic mulch, including straw, hay, manure, and some leaf-litter mold, may harbor weed seeds and should be composted or otherwise treated before use so that weed seeds are eliminated.

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  • Correct mulching
  • Incorrect “volcano” mulching

Mulching conifers | Society

Materials for mulching trees and shrubs

What are the benefits of using mulch?

  • Water retention in the soil - much less moisture evaporates from the covered surface, there is no need for frequent watering;
  • Temperature regulation - on hot days, the root system will not overheat, and in winter it will not freeze;
  • Weed control - 4-6 cm thick mulching prevents unwanted plants from growing;
  • Soil improvement - covered soil stays friable longer, permeable to air and water;
  • Nutrient enrichment - organic mulch decomposes over time, saturating the soil with useful components;
  • Acidity regulation - introduced pine needles, cones, bark or spruce branches, gradually acidify the soil;
  • Decoration of the site - mulch under the trees looks neat, which means that the decorativeness of the garden increases.

What can be used for mulching?

It is not necessary to go to the store, suitable materials for mulching can be on the site or in the neighboring forest. Consider the available options for do-it-yourself mulch.

Dry leaves

Natural material found almost everywhere. Fallen leaves are collected in their own garden or in the nearest forest belt, then they are poured around the trunks with a layer of about 5 cm. The “fur coat” created in this way perfectly protects the rhizomes from frost.

Sawdust mulch

Coniferous plants like acidic soils, which is favored by spruce and pine sawdust or shavings placed under them. Large wood waste traps snow, organizing additional shelter. Before mulching, the land is enriched with nitrogen fertilizers.

Pine mulch - bark or cones

The surface is beautifully covered with ordinary pine cones, which used to be lying around to no avail. Any synthetic fabric is placed under this mulch to control weeds. If you do not walk on the bumps, then they lie whole for a long time. Similarly, the bark of coniferous trees, which is sold in many nurseries, is used.

Coniferous needles

Buying bark in bags is expensive, so for mass coverage it is easier to collect the top layer of half-dry needles in the forest. A thin layer should be raked so as not to harm the trees. The “prickly” layer protects the soil well, and small rodents and slugs do not like such shelter.

Gravel, stone or expanded clay

Pebble or stone mulching solves several problems: keeps moisture in the ground, protects against overheating, prevents the growth of weeds and performs an aesthetic role. Inorganic materials do not rot, so they retain their original appearance for decades.

Dry branches

Even in a small garden, some branches are constantly cut. Usually they are burned, but if they are taken from healthy plants, then it is more expedient not to throw them away, but to cut them into small pieces with secateurs and use them as a mulching component for coniferous plantations.

How is conifer planting mulched?

Branches of plants located close to the ground are lifted or tied up so that they are not damaged, and it will be more convenient to work. The boundaries of the covered area are outlined, the sod is removed. Trying not to tear the rhizome, the soil around the trunk is carefully selected with a loosener to a depth of 5–10 cm. The soil is dug at a distance of a meter or more from the trunk, starting from the far border and, moving closer to the plant, stop plowing when surface roots appear.

The soil can be fertilized with mineral additives or organic, such as pine needle clover. The surface is leveled and compacted, then the mulch is laid out in an even layer.

The above methods of mulching are simple and can be used by most gardeners. The choice of a particular option depends on availability - why spend money when the right material is near your garden.

Coniferous mulching

Coniferous mulching, which is becoming fashionable, is not just a whim, but a very useful agrotechnical measure. It is especially common to mulch conifers with pine bark or crushed cones - it looks natural, even if the pine bark lies under the yew. Such mulch, applied to black lutrasil or denser geotextiles, retains moisture well in the soil, freeing it from watering, and most importantly, it saves dwarf varieties from weeds. Grass shade for low and creeping pines, larches and junipers can be more detrimental than from large trees. Mulching also somewhat reduces soil freezing.

The lower branches of plants are pre-tied up so as not to damage them during work. Inside the intended circle, the entire turf is removed, the grass is carefully removed. Then the top layer of soil is selected to a depth of 5-10 cm. The roots of coniferous plants are located close to the soil surface. Surface roots are carefully dug in and freed from the soil.

The edges of the recess are leveled, the bottom is carefully loosened without damaging the roots. Complex mineral fertilizers are embedded in the loose soil of the bottom. Then the prepared soil is leveled, slightly compacted and carefully, without washing away, watered. After that, lay out an even layer of mulch.

Mulching fruit trees, tree trunks, apple, pear, cherry

Mulch is an indispensable element of plant care. It retains soil moisture, and over time turns into nutritious humus. Mulching near the trunks of fruit trees provides natural protection and beautifies the garden.

Reasonableness of soil mulching

All gardeners struggle with weeds. But, exposing the soil, they expose it to other dangers: erosion, drying out, weathering, freezing. Therefore, the soil is subject to mandatory coverage. Covering material for mulching trees and shrubs should perform the following functions:

  1. protect soil from erosion;
  2. keep moisture, reduce the frequency of watering;
  3. protect tree roots from being washed out by rain;
  4. maintain optimum soil temperature;
  5. prevent the spread of weeds;
  6. help increase the amount of nutrients in the soil;
  7. improve the appearance of the site.

There are many different materials that can do this in one way or another.

Where can I get mulch material?

Most mulching materials can be found on your own yard, in your immediate vicinity or at home. There are two broad groups of fruit tree mulches: organic and inorganic. The former include:

  • cut grass;
  • autumn leaves;
  • weeds removed from seed beds;
  • sawdust, shavings, wood residues;
  • straw, hay;
  • bark;
  • compost, humus;
  • paper.

Main types of inorganic mulch for soil around trees:

  1. non-woven covering materials;
  2. crushed stone, gravel;
  3. marble chips.

When and how is mulching done?

A suitable time for the procedure is spring, when the soil has warmed up enough and its top layer has dried out a little.

Recommended mulch thickness (in mm):

  • straw, hay, grass - 100-150;
  • nettle - 50;
  • shavings, chips, sawdust - 70;
  • bark from 50;
  • conifer needles 30-50.

In a climate with cold winters, autumn mulching of tree trunks is essential. This measure will help protect the roots from freezing and saturate the soil with beneficial bacteria.

A protective layer should be placed around the trunk, retreating from it by 10-12 cm, so that unnecessary child roots do not begin to form in the wet substrate. The size of the circle should be approximately equal to the diameter of the crown, if the tree is large - at least 1.5 m.

3 mistakes when using mulch in the garden

In order not to turn a procedure from useful to harmful, you need to be aware of common mistakes:

  1. The most accessible material may seem to be autumn leaves fallen from fruit trees. In no case should they be used as mulch immediately and untreated: the foliage always contains fungal spores and pest larvae.
  2. Do not cover unheated soil with mulch: the protective layer will absorb heat and significantly delay the awakening of the crop.
  3. It is not allowed to mulch bushes and trees in damp weather in a thick layer: microbes, fungi and slugs will breed under it from dampness.

If the mulch layer has become caked and compacted, it should be loosened and the soil underneath slightly loosened.

Mulching trees with organic materials

All natural mulches add nutrients to the soil.

  • Mowed grass is great for protecting and enriching the ground, but too much cover can burn the roots of the tree.
  • Fallen needles increase acidity, so it is appropriate where this figure is low. Its prickly structure will protect against rodents, but the oils that are released can have a negative effect.
  • Chips and other wood waste also need to be pre-treated. They can reduce the nitrogen content in the soil, therefore, for two years, sawdust and shavings are kept in heaps, mixed with sand, dolomite flour and nitrogen fertilizers.
  • Hay can quickly turn into humus and saturate the soil, but it is dangerous because mice, slugs and other unwanted "guests" can breed in it. In addition, there are always weed seeds in hay, which will later have to be fought.
  • Tree bark is the most durable organic material. It is often sold in tinted form. This will enhance the decorative effect of the garden, but you should make sure that the dye does not contain toxic substances.
  • Paper and cardboard are used as a bottom protective layer, covering them with grass or straw on top.
  • Compost is the only mulching material that has no flaws. To all its well-known advantages, one can add the fact that this product can be made on its own site from existing waste. A great option is compost made from wood chips and sawdust.

Mulching trees with non-organic mulch

Synthetic materials and stones cannot nourish the soil. Among their advantages, decorativeness and durability are noted, as well as the fact that pests do not settle in them.

Garden mulching by weeding

This is the name of the method of soil protection, which consists in growing lawn grass on it.

The method is suitable only for mature trees, young trees need free trunk circles.

Lawn mowing involves the use of a lawn mower, the best option is with the function of cutting the cut grass, which will serve as mulch for the lawn itself.

How to water mulched soil?

Watering trees through the mulch layer is very effective. There is no soil crust under the mulch layer, the soil is not overheated by the sun, so water is better absorbed. The evaporating liquid remains under the protective layer, forming dew and creating a kind of cycle. Due to these circumstances, protected soil is watered much less frequently. This manipulation is carried out by introducing liquid under the root of the plant, if possible without affecting the covering material.

How to fertilize mulched soil?

Organic mulch is itself a nitrogen fertilizer, but a phosphorus-potassium fertilizer must be applied in spring and summer. They are mixed in dry form with mulch, with subsequent watering the mixture is absorbed.

When using inorganic materials, trees are fed in the same way as without shelter.

Features of mulching various garden crops

The sheltering process varies depending on the type of plantation.

Mulching of apple and pear trees

Trunk circles of apple and pear trees are mulched with the same materials as other fruit trees.

Mulching cherries

Ungrafted cherries produce over time many growths that are difficult to control. One measure could be mulching with straw or other organic matter. From the heat, the soil cracks, new shoots immediately form in the cracks. You can reduce the number of unwanted sprouts by mulching the ground around the tree with inorganic materials.

Shrub mulching

Shrubs need shelter just as much as trees. Of the varieties of mulch, you can use sawdust, bark, and better - compost or humus.

How is conifer planting mulched?

Conifer plantations are mulched in spring and autumn to retain moisture in the soil. The recommended material is tree bark. If stones are used, then it makes sense to put agrofibre under them.

Shelter near the trunk area is a careful attitude to plants that will thank for it with high yields. Protection from pests and adverse weather conditions will serve as an additional argument in favor of mulching.

How to use coniferous litter in the garden

The litter from pine, arborvitae and other coniferous plants can be successfully used on the site for a variety of purposes.

Canadian scientists have found that thin twigs of conifers contain up to 75% of all nutrients. Sugars - an order of magnitude more than in the wood of the trunks, there are proteins and the ideal ratio of nitrogen and carbon.

Soil improvement. Compost

Branch chips are good for depleted soils. The branches chopped by the shredder are mixed with the upper (5 cm) layer of soil and after 3-4 years the yield increases significantly.

Chops of small green twigs, as well as needles, can be added to barrels when preparing green manure. It's also good to compost them. To make it of high quality, you need to know some subtleties:

  • coniferous litter contains resin, the excess of which is not to the taste of many plants: roots suffer from it,
  • needles overheat for a very long time - from 3 to 5 years.

The ripening of humus can be accelerated and ready-made fertilizer can be obtained after 1.5 years (recipe from Irina Kudrina):

  • softwood litter,
  • fresh mullein - 100 kg per cubic meter of litter,
  • vegetable tops, weeds, kitchen waste,
  • some garden soil,
  • optional - wood ash or commercial deoxidizer.

Components are stacked in layers. After the gardener advises, shed abundantly with a solution of any microbiological fertilizer according to the instructions and cover the pile with a thick film.

In the next season, you will need to shed the compost 2-3 more times with this solution. Also, ripening humus should be ventilated and moistened from time to time with a hose.

In this way, coniferous litter rots 2 times faster.

If there is no mullein , needles and plant debris mixed with garden soil are placed in a pile. Each layer is shed with a solution of urea (200 g per 10 l).

Due to the presence of a large amount of essential oils in the needles, the humus will be free from insect pests and pathogenic microflora.

Due to the slightly acidic reaction, it is recommended to add ash before applying under the plants (1 tbsp per bucket).

Pest protection

The smell of conifers repels pests: the needles contain terpenes, they help in the fight against parasites, snails and slugs (the best way to protect the plant from them is to put needles of needles around it).

From wireworm can be added to the holes when planting potatoes with a handful of pine needles.

Coniferous infusion

Coniferous infusion can be sprayed against pests in spring:

  • needles, and preferably crushed young pine branches (they contain many times more ether) - 1-1.5 kg.

To obtain a mother liquor, needles are poured into a bucket and poured with hot water. Insist 3-4 days, stirring occasionally.

Then the infusion is diluted 2 times with clean water, a couple of spoons of liquid soap are added and trees and shrubs are sprayed.

The treatment is carried out several times, starting from the swelling of the buds and until the end of flowering.

What helps:

  • codling moth, flower beetle, sucker, leafworm,
  • various aphid species on horticultural and horticultural crops.

For the treatment of vegetable crops, dilute the infusion with water 1:2. Water

Pine needles are boiled over low heat for 15-20 minutes, then left to cool and filtered. For spraying, add 8 liters of water and 2 tablespoons of liquid soap to 2 liters of decoction.

Vegetable beds can be treated with decoction every 1.5-2 weeks after planting seedlings in the ground. Will help from caterpillars, cruciferous flea .

From Colorado potato beetle a more concentrated working infusion is needed - 4 liters of decoction per 6 liters of water.

Bed preparation before planting

  • 4-5 tbsp. l. arborvitae, fir or pine needles,
  • 1 liter of boiling water.

Insist composition for 3-4 days. Then prepare the mother liquor: 2 tbsp. l. coniferous extract and 1 liter of ash decoction are diluted in 10 liters of water and 100 g of green soap are added. The composition is diluted with water (1: 5), filtered and spilled on the beds on the eve of sowing or planting.

Against fungal diseases

Plants can be treated with coniferous infusion (in ratio with water 1:2) every 1.5 - 2 weeks. According to gardeners, after such treatments, tomatoes are less likely to be affected by late blight (only in very unfavorable weather), cucumbers and zucchini are less susceptible to powdery mildew.

Needles for mulching

Does pine litter acidify the soil? The acidity of rainwater is 5.6. The acidity of pine needles is 6.0. However, some soils have a pH below 6.0. So the use of needles of coniferous plants for mulching plantings, even with a layer of 7.5 cm, does not lead to a change in soil acidity!

It is good to mulch with sour-loving litter:

It is better to use rotted needles. The layer of summer mulch should be thin enough (up to 5 cm). Nothing needs to be buried in the soil, all processes take place on its surface.

Mulch can also be made in puff, by analogy with a compost heap in the following sequence: weeds without seeds + rotted manure + coniferous litter. Its thickness on clay soils should be at least 10 cm, on sandy soils - up to 15 cm. For some time, the mulch is covered with a film, it is removed for the winter.

Needles rot very slowly on the soil surface. Therefore, in the fall, after harvesting, it is removed from the beds and sent to the compost heap.

If you mulch trees with needles, you can not remove it for the winter - move the mulch to the side, put fertilizers and deoxidizers into the trunk circle with a chopper and return the litter to its place.

Video-recommendations for needle mulching

Ivan Russkikh talks about the features of the name plate and its use on the site.

Video: Does litter acidify the soil?

Shelter for the winter

Under the protection of coniferous needles or sawdust, plant roots are well protected from overheating in summer and hypothermia in winter. Temperature drops between cold September nights and still warm days are smoothed out, and the plant has the opportunity to prepare for winter.

Rodents do not like to winter in coniferous shelters.

  • Covering grapes, actidinia, clematis and other heat-loving creepers are removed from the trellises and laid on the ground.
  • Branches of rhododendrons, azaleas, roses, heat-loving berries can be pinned to the ground.
  • Bulb flowers and beds with winter crops can be insulated in the same way.

Needles for winter shelter can be used after drying in the sun. The above-ground part of the plants is covered to the top, then covered with a thick film and its edges are fixed with stones or earth.

The film will keep the mulch dry and will help to avoid dampening during the thaw period.

Coniferous branches cover biennials and perennials, especially those that suffer from drought in the spring (ferns, geyhera).

Some gardeners advise to protect young trees from rodents in winter with pine spruce branches. To do this, branches are tied to the stems with needles down.

Warm beds

Warm beds can be prepared in autumn:

  1. Dig a trench 2 bayonets of a shovel deep.
  2. A thick layer of pine needles sprinkled with ash is laid on the bottom. Then - a layer of manure and weeds (without seeds), tops mixed with soil.
  3. The last layer is fertile soil 15-20 cm high.
  4. As a result, the bed should rise above the surface by 25-30 cm. It is abundantly watered with a solution of microbiological fertilizer and covered with a dark film.

In spring, seedlings can be planted in such beds a month earlier. To do this, cross-shaped cuts are made in the film, where plants are planted. Then arcs are installed above the bed and covered with nectar material.

The content of the bed rots slowly, so it can be used for several years.

Harvest storage

Pine litter has bactericidal and antiseptic properties, it can be used to store crops in the cellar. Needles for this must be well dried.

  • root crops can be poured during storage (on the bottom of the box - first 2-3 cm of needles)

Root crops remain juicy and elastic and are less susceptible to rot.

  1. Do-It-Yourself Garden Magazine No. 1 (2018)

How to mulch fruit trees and shrubs • in autumn

Mulch is an indispensable element of plant care. It retains soil moisture, and over time turns into nutritious humus. Mulching near the trunks of fruit trees provides natural protection and beautifies the garden.

Reasonableness of soil mulching

All gardeners struggle with weeds. But, exposing the soil, they expose it to other dangers: erosion, drying out, weathering, freezing. Therefore, the soil is subject to mandatory coverage. Covering material for mulching trees and shrubs should perform the following functions:

  1. protect soil from erosion;
  2. retain moisture, reduce the frequency of watering;
  3. protect tree roots from being washed out by rain;
  4. maintain optimum soil temperature;
  5. prevent the spread of weeds;
  6. help increase the amount of nutrients in the soil;
  7. to improve the appearance of the site.

There are many different materials that can do this in one way or another.

Where can I get mulch material?

Most mulching agents can be found on your own yard, in your immediate vicinity or at home. There are two broad groups of fruit tree mulches: organic and inorganic. The former include:

  • cut grass;
  • autumn leaves;
  • weeds removed from beds without seeds;
  • sawdust, shavings, wood residues;
  • straw, hay;
  • bark;
  • compost, humus;
  • paper.

The main types of inorganic mulch for the soil around trees:

  1. non-woven covering materials;
  2. crushed stone, gravel;
  3. marble chips.

When and how is mulching done?

A suitable time for the procedure is spring, when the soil has warmed up enough and its top layer has dried out a little.

Recommended thickness of the mulch layer (in mm):

  • straw, hay, grass - 100-150;
  • nettle - 50;
  • shavings, chips, sawdust - 70;
  • bark from 50;
  • conifer needles 30-50.

In a climate with cold winters, autumn mulching of tree trunks is essential. This measure will help protect the roots from freezing and saturate the soil with beneficial bacteria.

A protective layer should be placed around the trunk, retreating from it by 10-12 cm, so that unnecessary child roots do not begin to form in the wet substrate. The size of the circle should be approximately equal to the diameter of the crown, if the tree is large - at least 1.5 m.

3 mistakes when using mulch in the garden

To prevent the procedure from being useful to harmful, you need to be aware of common mistakes:

  1. The most accessible material may seem to be autumn leaves that have fallen from fruit trees. In no case should they be used as mulch immediately and untreated: the foliage always contains fungal spores and pest larvae.
  2. Do not mulch soil that has not been warmed by the sun: the protective layer will absorb heat and significantly delay the awakening of the crop.
  3. It is not allowed to mulch bushes and trees in damp weather with a thick layer: microbes, fungi and slugs will divorce under it from dampness.

If the layer of mulch has become caked and compacted, it should be loosened and the soil underneath slightly loosened.

Mulching trees with organic materials

All natural mulches add nutrients to the soil.

  • Mowed grass is great for protecting and enriching the ground, but too much cover can burn the roots of the tree.
  • Fallen needles increase acidity, so it is appropriate where this figure is low. Its prickly structure will protect against rodents, but the oils that are released can have a negative effect.
  • Chips and other wood waste also need to be pre-treated. They can reduce the nitrogen content in the soil, therefore, for two years, sawdust and shavings are kept in heaps, mixed with sand, dolomite flour and nitrogen fertilizers.
  • Hay can quickly turn into humus and saturate the soil, but it is dangerous because mice, slugs and other unwanted "guests" can breed in it. In addition, there are always weed seeds in hay, which will later have to be fought.
  • Tree bark is the most durable organic material. It is often sold in tinted form. This will enhance the decorative effect of the garden, but you should make sure that the dye does not contain toxic substances.
  • Paper and cardboard are used as a bottom protective layer, covering them with grass or straw on top.
  • Compost is the only mulching material that has no drawbacks. To all its well-known advantages, one can add the fact that this product can be made on its own site from existing waste. A great option is compost made from wood chips and sawdust.

Mulching trees with inorganic mulch

Synthetic materials and stones are not capable of nourishing the soil. Among their advantages, decorativeness and durability are noted, as well as the fact that pests do not settle in them.

Garden mulching by lawn grassing

This is the name given to the method of protecting the soil, which consists in growing lawn grass on it.

The method is suitable only for mature trees, young trees need free trunk circles.

Lawn mowing involves the use of a lawn mower, the best option is with the function of cutting the cut grass, which will serve as mulch for the lawn itself.

How to water mulched soil?

Watering trees through the mulch layer is very effective. There is no soil crust under the mulch layer, the soil is not overheated by the sun, so water is better absorbed. The evaporating liquid remains under the protective layer, forming dew and creating a kind of cycle.

Due to these circumstances, protected soil is watered much less frequently. This manipulation is carried out by introducing liquid under the root of the plant, if possible without affecting the covering material.

How to fertilize mulched soil?

Organic mulch is itself a nitrogen fertilizer, but a phosphorus-potassium fertilizer must be applied in spring and summer. They are mixed in dry form with mulch, with subsequent watering the mixture is absorbed.

When using inorganic materials, trees are fed in the same way as without shelter.

Features of mulching various horticultural crops

The covering process varies depending on the type of planting.

Mulching of apple and pear trees

Trunk circles of apple and pear trees are mulched with the same materials as other fruit trees.

Mulching cherries

Ungrafted cherries eventually create a lot of growth that is difficult to control. One measure could be mulching with straw or other organic matter. From the heat, the soil cracks, new shoots immediately form in the cracks.

You can reduce the number of unwanted shoots by mulching the ground around the tree with inorganic materials.

Mulching shrubs

Shrubs need shelter just as much as trees. Of the varieties of mulch, you can use sawdust, bark, and better - compost or humus.

How is conifer planting mulched?

Conifer plantations are mulched in spring and autumn to retain moisture in the soil.


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