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Mulch Around Your Plants To Protect The Roots This Winter

During our hot, dry summer, I advocated mulching your landscape to help insulate the soil against the heat. Insulation, however, is a two-way street. It can also insulate against the cold. So, I’m now advocating mulch for winter.

Mulch can also regulate the amount of water reaching your plant roots. Mulch absorbs some of the water from rain and melting snow and then releases it into the soil over time.

Spread up to four inches of organic mulch around the base of your plants. If you spread two inches for the summer, add a couple more. If you spread three inches, just add another inch.

Remember last week’s blog about closing down your critter café? I warned against  letting the mulch touch tree trunks and shrub stems. In particular, don’t pile the mulch up the trunk in a mulch volcano. Mulch provides the perfect picnic pavilion for little rodents like mice. Also, mulch touching trunks releases its water on to the trunk, rather than into the soil. Any crack, cut or break in the bark can create a perfect environment for rot and other microbes.

When I talk about the benefits of mulch, I’m referring only to organic mulches like wood chips and pine bark. In addition to moderating soil temperature and regulating water absorption by the soil, organic mulch also decomposes and returns nutrients to the soil. Inorganic mulches like stone chips are only decorative and don’t provide any environmental benefits.

I’m particularly partial to double ground hardwood mulch because it’s made from recycled debris from tree trimming operations. Recycling this material contributes to plant health while reducing the stream of waste going to landfills.

If you spread four inches of mulch for the winter, don’t forget to remove an inch or two in the spring. Four inches are too thick for the growing season. Measure the mulch depth before removing any in spring. Some may have already decomposed.

You can buy bags of mulch at garden centers and home stores but that’s expensive, especially for large areas. We can deliver it in bulk much less expensively. We can either dump it in your driveway for you to spread or one of our professional landscape crews can spread it for you.

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