Mulch Benefits for Plants

February 07, 2022

Mulch is an organic or inorganic material applied to the soil surface to conserve soil moisture, moderate soil temperature, prevent weed growth, protect tree roots, and prevent soil compaction.  Organic materials used for mulch include wood chips, pine needles, bark, leaves, hay, and straw.  Crushed limestone, gravel, stone chips, river rock and rubber are inorganic mulches which do not decompose.  These are some of the mulch benefits.

Conserves Soil Moisture

Mulch reduces the level of moisture that evaporates from the soil.  It can retain up to 80% of added moisture to the soil.  It acts like a sponge by soaking up excess moisture and releasing that moisture when dryer conditions occur.  This moisture is rich in nutrients from the mulch decomposition.

Moderates Soil Temperature

Mulch insulates trees by helping to prevent major fluctuations in temperature which can slow or stop tree growth.  During dormancy trees retain a high amount of moisture and mulch insulates the soil so that their roots can absorb moisture and nutrients without freezing.  In the summer, it reduces evaporation protecting roots from extreme heat.

Prevents Weed Growth

Mulch controls weed growth by blocking sunlight from reaching the soil surface which prohibits weed seed germination.  A thick, two- to three-inch layer of mulch on the soil will act as a physical weed barrier and prevent weed growth.

Protects Tree Roots

Mulch insulates trees from fluctuating temperatures which can prohibit and slow tree growth.  It helps to keep the soil warm in the winter and cool in the summer preventing major temperature changes.

Reduces Soil Compaction

When soil particles are pressed together compaction occurs reducing the pore space between them.  This makes it difficult for water and nutrients to reach the tree roots.  Mulch reduces root stress and protects the tree.

These are some of the major benefits of mulching. However, call Integrity Tree CareIntegrity Tree Care to check your trees before mulching around them because many negative indicators of tree decline is shown on the ground around the tree first.