Mulching the soil is extremely beneficial for trees, bushes and flowers alike. However, if not done right, its benefits cannot be realized at best, or problems may occur at worst. That’s why it is important to understand the right mulching techniques before doing any garden work.
First, keep in mind that the best time to begin mulching is during the fall, way before temperatures hit the freezing point. Fall also happens to be the best time to plant new trees in the garden, so whether we’re dealing with an established tree or a recently planted tree, a good layer of organic mulch will protect it from frost damage because it keeps the soil at a stable temperature above freezing.
Second, apply the right amount. Arborists recommend a layer of mulch somewhere between 2 and 4 inches thick for several reasons: It inhibits weed growth; it helps aerate the soil; it prevents erosion; it retains moisture; and it releases the right level of nutrients as it decays. Conversely, if too much mulch is applied it may retain excessive moisture, which may rot the roots.
Third, spread it out. When mulching around a tree start applying it a few inches away from the trunk and spread evenly out towards the canopy line. The root system on trees extends out quite a distance and the roots close to the surface benefit from mulch because it provides optimum conditions for mineral intake.
Finally, pick the right mulch for the specific tree. Although commercially available mulch works well for most trees and bushes, certain plants prefer a more acidic soil and therefore mulch derived from timber salvage or other wood sources may not do the trick. In cases were more acidity is desired it is always better to go with pine straw.