By following a few important guidelines, you can safely landscape around an established tree.
Avoid soil build up against the bark of the tree. Raising the soil level by just a few inches can cause the trunk to rot. This will cause the tree to decline and eventually die. If possible, try to avoid adding soil to any area underneath the tree canopy. If you must add soil, use the smallest amount possible, taking care to keep it a few feet away from the trunk. Mounding soil on top of woody roots will have a similar effect to piling it against the bark. The wood protecting the root will rot, potentially cutting off a large source of water and nutrients to the tree.
When it comes time to plant, dig with care! Avoid damaging the roots as much as possible. Keep in mind that by severing a root close to the trunk, you are also cutting off many tiny feeder roots that are connected to the one root that is cut.
Using about 2-3” of mulch will not hurt the tree. However, do not add mulch right up against the trunk. It is important to keep good airflow around the base of the tree.
What is mulch?
Mulch in itself is material that is spread out over and around the roots of what you have planted. Two types of mulch are organic and inorganic mulch. Organic mulch includes grass clippings, leaves, bark mulch, newspaper and straw like pine straw. Inorganic mulch includes various types of rocks, stones and gravel. The advantage to using organic mulch is that overtime it breaks down and adds nutrients to the soil, thus making the soil richer. However, because it eventually decomposes, organic mulch will need to be replaced from time to time.
Why Use mulch?
Mulching is one of the most important ways to protect and maintain healthy landscaped plants, shrubs and flowers. Some
- it prevents weeds from coming through
- organic mulches add to the nutrient base of the soil making the soil richer
- helps to hold water and moisture in your plants and gardens, therefore you don’t have to water as much
- helps the roots maintain an even temperature
- protects your soil from erosion
- adds to the aesthetic appeal of your landscape by making it look more finished
When applying mulch you want to put a layer of it 2-4 inches as close to the roots as possible. Remember to replace the mulch as needed if using organic materials. Make sure you don’t use too much as too much of it will be a bad thing possible causing the roots to suffocate. You also want to make sure you keep any mulch away from tree trunks. Organic mulches are very beneficial but they can wind up being a habitat for insects. Most of these insects will not harm your plants but they may become a nuisance for you. Keep this in mind when using organic mulch close to your house. Pavement ants are known to love bark mulch. If put too close to your house you may have unwanted guests. Some people like to spread out a layer of plastic underneath before they apply mulch. This isn’t a good idea because it dries out the soil underneath defeating the purpose of maintaining proper moisture for the root system. The best time to apply mulch is in late Spring once the ground starts to warm up.
As a final mention on using mulch I can’t emphasize enough how it can improve the aesthetics of your landscape. Whether you use colored bark mulch or beautiful colored rocks, it will really make your yard pop. It is well known that beautifully landscaped yards add to the value of your home.
Article from www.LandscapingIdeasOnline.com
Here in the Omaha area, trees are dropping their leaves and it is important to prevent a heavy layer of leaves from building-up on your turf before winter. Heavy layers of tree leaves that shade the grass can smother and kill grass yet this fall. Plus tree leaf cover favors snow mold, which should still be fresh in our mind from last year's damage. If you choose not to compost them on site, the easiest way to dispose of leaves is to simply mow them in to the turf.
Cool-season turfgrasses require mowing well in to the fall anyway, so regular mowing during the fall will chop the leaves in to small pieces and allow them to filter in to the turf. Research at Purdue and other Midwestern universities shows that tree leaves can be mulched without any detrimental effects on the soil or turf. Actually, just the opposite may be true where tree leaf mulching may help improve the soil and/ or turf.
Not only is mulching leaves with a mower much easier than raking, blowing, and/ or vacuuming the leaves like we have done in the past, other benefits include:
- Minimizes waste in landfills.
- Reduces municipal costs for leaf pick-up and disposal.
- Improved water infiltration in to the soil.
- Helps reduce a source of phosphorus in our surface waters. A number of studies reported total P in urban runoff is highest in fall at the time of leaf drop. Tree leaves moved to the streets could leach phosphorus, which could move in to the storm drains and eventually in to rivers and streams. Keeping them on the turf will allow for better absorption of leached phosphorus.
- May help reduce broadleaf weeds on very low maintenance areas.
Turf iNfo for the North Central US | University of Nebraska – Lincoln turf.unl.edu