Mulching the soil surface around your trees and shrubs in one of the best treatments you can provide to increase root development and improve tree health. Numerous studies over decades have shown that maintaining a layer of mulch will conserve soil moisture, reduce compaction, increase nutrient levels and moderate soil temperatures. Mulch beds look good and can reduce maintenance of your landscape.
One of the best materials to use as a mulch is fresh wood chips. Wood chips contain bark, leaves and wood. Because of this mixture, more nutrients are available to the tree. A layer of wood chips applied in late winter or early spring typically will decompose considerably by autumn. The decomposing chips will work their way into the soil, which will help reduce soil compaction. It's a good practice to replenish mulch in autumn in preparation for the coming winter.
Whether you have wood chips, other mulches or ground cover plants growing under your trees, be sure to keep them off of the trunk and buttress roots. When against the trunk, any of these can keep moisture levels high on the bark and promote some fungal pathogens. They can also hide the fruiting structures of root decay fungi. So keep ground cover plants at least a foot away from tree trunks.
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