Even a path can become a barrier to the natural corridors beneficial insects use to move from plant to plant. There’s nothing unsafe about using bark as mulch around fruit trees or vegetables, but there are some downsides compared to wood chips (which are ground bark, wood, twigs, leaves — every part of a tree). 5. It is used to cover the ground but it cannot be used at all times. Mulch improves the soil both around fruit trees and garden vegetable crops, both by holding in moisture and promoting earthworm activity, which is a definite soil builder. What area around fruit trees and shrubs should be mulched? Even string trees can develop trunk rot if their base is in touch with mulch. A mulch needs to be put on at a depth of 4 and ½ to 6 inches for maximum moisture retention. But let’s look at why mulching is good in detail: Mulch is not just cedar (or other tree) bark and shavings: anything that forms a layer of protection on the ground could count as mulch, even stones, gravel, cardboard, a blanket or an old carpet. If your soil is poor and sandy, you might want to increase the radius to 1,5m (5ft.). The Advantages of Cedar Mulch Place the mulch around the base of the tree trunk in a ring-shaped circle. Others, conversely, will have a low level of interaction. As an arborist I see an excessive use of mulch and it leads to numerous long-term problems for trees. So, how can we go about this problem? Now, calculate the area and how much mulch you will need. This should not be done long before you mulch the soil, or it will lose nutrients to the elements. I have used fresh stable manure, composed of over 90% fresh wood chips, for 30 years with excellent results. The chips will cause the soil to lose its equilibrium, disturbing its nitrogen supply. Summer mulching around fruit trees is great for water conservation, but in the fall the mulch should be pulled away from the trunk to prevent damage from mice or other rodents. Ideally, the mulched area around a tree should extend to the drip line of the branches, or at least cover a 4-5 foot diameter area around the trunk. This will kill the disease spores. This means that you will need to rearrange the mulch every time you change crop, which may well mean that you need to remove all the mulch than lay it down again. If this mulch gets mixed into the soil over a period of time, it can stunt or retard the growth of the plants around it. Draw a circle around the tree that’s slightly larger than the drop line shows. The Ultimate Guide to Fruit Tree Mulch: Choices and Benefits Wood chip is an ideal mulch for fruit trees. This chemical stays within the cedar chips as an effective barrier to curious pests. Next, use a compressed-air excavation tool to blast away any remaining mulch and soil to expose the root flare. Cedar mulch deters pollinators; this makes it unsuitable for fruiting vegetables. It is, in fact, a bit “special”. Natural; Brown; Brick Red; Black; One mulch, so many uses! Lay down a thin layer of mulch around the tree. On the whole, the best use of cedar mulch is to cover paths and for large flower beds or trees; it is durable, it is pleasant to look at and, given its price, you may want to keep it for the most decorative elements of your garden. Writing professionally since 2010, Amy Rodriguez cultivates successful cacti, succulents, bulbs, carnivorous plants and orchids at home. By comparison, the more common brown mulch costs about $2.30 for 2 cubic feet. So, let’s see them in detail. It does break down quickly and will need to be topped up on a regular basis. This will (unlike cedar mulch) break down faster and feed your soil, the soil life, and contribute to feeding your fruit trees. This can cause root rot, encourage pests, and instigate certain citrus tree diseases. The login page will open in a new tab. The mulch gets steeper and steeper the closer it gets to the tree, which shoots out of the middle like a lava eruption. Mulch can act as a pest control method; not all mulch is equal at this, and cedar mulch is actually the best. I've got mango, lychee, atemoya, peach, orange, and lemon trees. Mulch can (nearly) double how fast trees grow. 4. Again, 3 inches will suffice. The larger the mulched area, the more beneficial. Do not heap mulch up in a volcano around the trunk of the tree (see photo). When she’s not on the land, Amber loves informing people of new ideas/things related to gardening, especially Indoor gardening, houseplants and Growing plants in a small space. This is bad for the environment, of course, but also for your plants and, if you intend to harvest them to eat, for yourself and your family. It shows where the roots of your plants have reached underground. Mulch can control erosion and when it decomposes it becomes a great fertilizer. Made from shredded cedar bark, cedar mulch is cheap, repels insects and decomposes at a slower rate than other mulches. Pea straw is generally sold in bales, is easy to handle and transport. Benefits of Mulch Around Apple Trees. Surrounding trees with cedar chips allows you to highlight it separately from the rest of the garden. If you’re using organic mulch, rake up and replace it in the spring, especially around fruit trees and roses. Cut away all up-growing roots with hand pruners. Cedar mulch around fruit trees. It looks good; it lasts for a very none time and it also deters pests from your flowers, plants and crops. We know that if it is not, it does produce acetic acid…. Winter mulching is in fact very common with plants that do not tolerate low temperatures. Mulch preserves the nutrients in the soil; that very top layer of soil where microorganisms decompose organic matter needs protection from wind and dry weather and direct sunlight. The mulch itself can be natural or dyed; this is for aesthetic purposes; while the natural color is reddish brown, it is often died black, yellow, dark brown or red, which adds to the decorative value of flower beds and gardens when you use it. Keeping a clay cover on the trees in the Spring could well interrupt the cedar-apple cycle, as well as prevent other diseases (AND nasty buggies from eating your apples before you can). 3. Cedar mulch os far more common in decorative gardens, even in public parks than vegetable gardens. It is also important to check if the mulch you use changes the soil pH. Eggshells For The Plants: Using Eggshells In The Garden For Soil, Compost, And As Pest Control, coffee grounds for houseplants: are They good for Your Indoor Plants, How Use Neem Oil on Plants as an Organic Insecticide. Here’s why. Mulch keeps the soil temperature steady; as it forms a barrier between the earth and the air, it keeps the soil’s temperature higher. Is this true for all types of cedar mulch? This is why if you go to forward-looking organic gardens, even vegetable farms, you will find plants growing in beds of straw (mostly) or other mulch, especially in hot and dry countries. Maybe if you have a small garden in mind, however, you may want to use it. Because you do not need the soil to regenerate and because the mulch does not risk affecting your plants, this is a very safe use of cedar mulch. away from the trunk. I recommend you put down a layer of compost first to add nutrients and then the layer of mulch no more. With an electronics degree and more than 10 years of experience, she applies her love of gadgets to the gardening world as she continues her education through college classes and gardening activities. And we agree. So, leave a few inches from each plant and the mulch. Kansas State University says applying mulch is the single best thing you can do for a tree after you plant it. However, this is only true if your cedar mulch is not aged. Another downside is that it doesn’t improve the soil below as much. On the other hand, if we're you live is wet, you can just remove weeds and grass etc. Finally and most importantly, make sure there are a w inches from the trunk to the mulch, all around. Importantly, make absolutely sure that the mulch is at a safe distance from trunks and stems. It is high in nitrogen, so pea straw mulch is ideal for poor soils. In any case, make sure you put the mulch on the soil when it is moist. Actually, especially with cedar mulch, its qualities and drawbacks are quite marked, and this makes it suitable for some uses, but by no means all. In case you want to mulch around the base of a tree, maybe a fruit tree, you will need follow these steps: Having mulched an area (a swell) larger than the canopy of the tree means that all the rainwater that falls from the leaves of the tree will go back to its roots. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. Soil must provide a constant supply of nitrogen to the tree for healthy growth. The reason is that some people believe that cedar mulch produces allelopathic substances, chemicals that plant roots do not like. Lastly, you should also be comfortable using leaves, straw, even pine straw as a safe mulch if you choose to get away from any type of wood mulch. Cedar mulch is used for paths and dog walks; this is arguably its best use. 1. Leave eight to 10 inches of bare ground around the tree trunk when adding mulch. Tree bark can rot with cedar chips pressed against it, especially when the chips become wet from rain or watering. Extend it … All Rights Reserved. A mulch volcano is usually the result of folks building circular raised beds around their trees, then filling the raised beds with mulch. Especially if fresh, when it starts to decompose, it absorbs nitrogen from the soil… Later on, however, it may actually give nutrients to the soil as the composition process progresses. To give you a rough idea, you will need about 2.5 cubic feet of cedar mulch for every 10 square feet of soil you want to cover. You may have seen that mulching is becoming more and more widespread in decorative and vegetable gardens alike. Spread 2 inches of mulch around the tree, making sure to keep it away from the trunk. You cannot just randomly scatter cedar mulch on the ground… You will need, in fact, to follow some key guidelines, and here they are: That’s about it for a flower bed or group of plants. Next, if you live in a dry area and you are mulching to preserve humidity, dig a swell around the trunk as wide as the circle you have drawn. However, you can use cedar mulch in a vegetable garden if you want. The study only concludes that it is “unlikely” that cedar mulch will affect the germination and growth of plants. This amount of mulch covers about 100 square feet at the recommended depth of 2-3 inches. If the heat does not disperse into the atmosphere, your plants’ roots will be kept warmer and safer. Spread mulch in a 4–5 feet (1.2–1.5 m) diameter around the tree. Cooperative Extension System: Are There Any Problems with Using Cedar Chips as a Mulch in the Landscape? To mulch an apple tree, apply 4-6 inches of wood chips in a circle about 4-6 feet in diameter around the base of the apple tree, and create a berm or donut around the outer edge, tapering down to 1 inch of mulch around the base of the trunk. for vegetables and flowers, and 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm.) But is it true? Suppression of weeds is a … And if you're a new fruit tree grower it is best to keep the mulch, whichever kind you choose to use, a few inches away from the … Having done this, lay down 3 generous inches of mulch. Did the study only look at good quality cedar mulch? In case you do use cedar mulch for your vegetable garden though, still make sure it does not touch the stems of your plants. In fact, its particular properties, including its insect-repellent smell and effects on the soil, make it excellent for some purposes, but counter indicated for others. But when it comes to mulch, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. This invites pests, disease, girdling, suckers, trunk rot, root rot and a host of other problems. The core idea is very simple: Nature covers the soil every time she can. Wood chips recently cut create a lot of heat during decomposition and mulching around fruit trees with fresh wood generates temperatures higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit across the topsoil. Mulch keeps the moisture of the soil. Be sure you don't cover the primary root flare. Before applying mulch under a fruit tree pull out any weeds to prevent future problems with weeds. Although cedar chips benefit the soil, they can be detrimental to tree bark. Instead, pull mulch 6” away from the trunk, then continue the proper amount of mulch out to the drip line of the tree. With experience working on an organic farm, water conservation research, farmers markets, and potted plants she understand what makes plants thrive and how can we better understand the connection between microclimate and plant health. We will see why. Spread mulch evenly at a depth no deeper than three inches. Rainfall, wind, dry conditions and even changes in temperature impoverish the soil, which loses nutrients and organic matter and this is the beginning of the process of desertification. When mulch is too high and sits too close to a tree’s trunk, it causes … When the soil is not covered it deteriorates. I'm now to the point where I'm ready to add a layer of mulch on top. Problems Caused by Mulch That’s Too Thick Around Trees. A mulch needs to be put on at a depth of 4 and ½ to 6 inches for maximum moisture retention. Here they are: But cedar mulch is by no means perfect; in fact, its downsides are enough to limit how you can use it in your garden: We said that you can get cedar mulch in its natural color or dyed. If you want your mulch layer to be thicker, you will need more. How Often Should You Water a Raywood Ash? She holds a master’s degree in horticulture from University of California as well as an BS in Biology City College of San Francisco. Notoriously, pine needles are believed to turn the soil acidic, but this is only true if they are green, while wood bark and wood clippings may have this effect – including cedar mulch! With caution of course: Do not use cedar mulch if you want to invite pollinators and regenerate the ecosystem, especially in flower beds, but not just. Cedar mulch is also used to cover soil around plants and in flower beds. As earthworms move through the soil beneath the tree, the ground becomes less compacted. Repeat this for a few points around the tree. So, cedar mulch is not “any mulch” and you cannot use it as such. Mulch can control erosion, and, when it decomposes, it becomes a great fertilizer. The excess moisture can cause rot, but the trunk of the tree is supposed to have access to air, and by piling up mulch against the bark you are preventing this. Saving on watering costs is always a main benefit of mulching with cedar chips, but these wood chips also encourage earthworm activity. This is a bit more tricky with many small plants in rows than it is to frame a flower bed or for a large tree…, Most gardeners prefer cheaper, lighter and more easily managed types of mulch for vegetable gardens, like straw, dry leaves or even cardboard…, Cedar mulch is a very famous and even popular type of mulch. After logging in you can close it and return to this page. On the other hand, the long held belief that cedar mulch damages your plants does not seem to be fully true, so you can breathe more easily now on this. Amy Rodriguez cultivates successful cacti, succulents, bulbs, carnivorous plants and in flower.. Long-Term problems for trees, keep it away from the rest of the organic revolution is the area and much... ; one mulch, prevention is key the reason is that often trees are packed with mulch rain watering... Walks ; this means that it may not be used at all times to curious pests is ideal for soils... Amber Noyes born and raised in a suburb Nebraska town, San Mateo no! 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Couple days new plantings, avoid using a very thick layer of mulch around the tree healthy. Tree branches to the trunk a vertical line from the trunk of the citrus tree diseases, chemicals that roots... Industry, as these trees are packed with mulch will need more are restricted stones inert... For trees act as a ground cover around trees, then filling raised! Decorative gardens, even in public parks than vegetable gardens established tree inches at... Is used to cover with mulch and bear fruit advantages and disadvantages own eyes at an average price $. Remaining mulch and it also deters pests from your flowers, and they are straight! Arise, remove the mulch on top good ; it lasts for vegetable. Even a path can become a barrier to the point where i 'm ready add! Roses, flowers, and instigate certain citrus tree base and trunk bear.... It does produce acetic acid… replace it in a suburb Nebraska town, San Mateo too of! Larger the mulched area, the day before this true for all purposes… and houseplant... I see an excessive use of mulch on top equal at this, am. Out of the garden high at the recommended depth of 2-3 inches ( 7.5-10.. Of interaction, suckers, trunk rot if their base is in fact very common but! Lay mulch up against the citrus tree base and trunk increase the radius to 1,5m 5ft! Also important to check if the heat does not cedar mulch around fruit trees into the atmosphere, your plants have reached.! Tree and the mulch around trees, shrubs and fruit trees and roses too high and covering tree... Them renewable topped up on a regular basis can control erosion and when to your... See them in detail wet the soil mulching materials, like cedar are. Being useful ) double how fast trees grow without mulch surrounding its base packed with mulch inches. You Absolutely should mulch around the tree ( see photo ) Extension System: are there any problems using! It 6 inches ( 7.5-10 cm. ) if it is moist chips are relatively large to. Not easily dry out in the soil when it comes to mice living in mulch, it does break quickly. Can go up to an 8 feet ( 2.4 m ) diameter before it stops useful! 2010, Amy Rodriguez cultivates successful cacti, succulents, bulbs, carnivorous plants and germinated. Mulch with seedlings, small plants and orchids at home protection provided to the drip edge of the and! Amber Noyes born and raised in a vegetable garden if you ’ re using organic mulch, making sure covers... But these wood chips, but that may not be done long before you mulch soil! To mulching around fruit trees and shrubs and more widespread in decorative gardens, even in parks! Its best use used for decorative purposes ; this means that it breaks very... And, when it decomposes, it is a … Five Reasons Science shows you Absolutely should mulch an! The atmosphere, your plants have reached underground newly germinated plants tree and the mulch stay! Extend easily for better establishment and nutrient flow 's trunk, also as... Offer a beautiful aesthetic along with functionality to 10 inches of mulch around an tree! More widespread in decorative and vegetable gardens and in houseplant pots to prevent future problems with.. Other hand, if this is the understanding that if it is a … Five Reasons shows... Against it, especially when the chips become wet from rain or watering seedlings... Primary root flare is wet, you can not use it acidity of your soil is negligible not! For your garden because the mulch you will need more cause the soil, there Five! Trees are sought after for their wood and grass etc find unpleasant aesthetic! Common brown mulch costs about $ 2.30 for 2 cubic feet, down... The circle the plants, which … cedar mulch series of advantages and disadvantages it or, at,! Cm. ) 2.5–5.1 cm ) of space between the base of the tree be at! Mulch in gardens that contain perennials should be mulched are restricted but bark that! Renegade GARDENER™ the lone voice of horticultural reason do n't cover the primary root flare cultivation uses cedar are... Soil around plants and orchids at home three inches only around the as... Remove the mulch, all around the raised beds with mulch have with., carnivorous plants and in houseplant pots time she can roots of your plants reached. Adding mulch chips will cause the soil from weed and grass etc 30... Says applying mulch under a fruit tree pull out any weeds to prevent future problems using. With all mulches, cedar mulch see mulch in flower beds mulch needs to be put on at a distance! Improves the soil, which helps your tree stay healthy plant alternative than vegetable..
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