Structural Soil for Urban Trees

Structural Soil for Urban Trees

Currently most urban trees are planted directly into existing compacted urban soil or tree pits with limited root space. Trees that are planted in areas surrounded by paving tend to struggle for air space and usually decline well before they should. Where soil volume is limited by pavement, tree roots suffer and tend to take the path of least resistance searching for air, usually in and around pipes, foundations, or to the surface. Healthy trees need a large volume of non-compacted soil with adequate drainage and aeration and reasonable fertility.structural-soil-expanded-view

While the need and desire for large trees in the urban landscape still is the desired intent, the trees do not survive long enough to fill the need. Not planning for root growth is ignoring the biological requirements of trees and is not economical or environmentally prudent. The failure to provide adequate soil for both drainage and root growth is critical to the life of the tree and without an engineered soil specific to this application, trees have a shortened life span and may die. Ensuring a good supply of air to the tree roots is essential for satisfactory tree growth, however in urban situations, the movement of air into the soil is often restricted. By providing additional root space below the pavement in what otherwise was compacted urban soil, Structural Soil can allow most newly planted trees to have a chance for healthy growth. This mix consists of 80% 75 mm angular clear aggregate  and 20%  approved sandy clay loam. The aggregates bear the load, providing the structural stability for the pavement above. The angularity of the rock create for the non-compacted soil, providing space for air, water and nutrients the roots, as well as provide for future root expansion. Engineered structural soil provides a resource for root growth beyond the traditional tree pit, allowing for much stronger root growth and ongoing tree health. Bitter_orange_-_Citrus_aurantium_08

Denbow has been providing structural soil to many municipalities within the Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley area. These departments use Denbow’s manufactured soil to allow city planners and engineering departments to add trees for the health and beauty of urban communities.

Contact Denbow’s soil experts today to find out more about how structural soil can work in your city or municipality.

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What is Structural Soil and Why is it Good for Trees

What is Structural Soil Why is it good for Trees?

Why is structural soil effective?

Structural soil is a type of soil mixed with a specific type of gap-upgraded rock (typically 75mm clear). This is a very important part of the specification; the reason structural soil works well is that the gaps created by the rock are then filled with soil, enabling penetration by tree roots. This penetration allows the tree access to a larger space underground, and has the double function of preventing the tree roots from lifting up the hard surface, i.e. the sidewalk that is on top.

How does the structural soil get tested?

The testing of structural soil is essentially a three-part process. The soil must be tested separately. The rock must be tested and sourced with a specific sieve size attached to it to determine that it is in fact a clear rock and not a minus rock. With a minus rock all of which would be filled and therefore the soil would be effective.

There is also a stabilizing compound that is used with structural support to help the soil adhere to the rock. The specifications for this material would come directly from the stabilizer supplier; there are more than one of these.

Who can make structural soil?

Like any engineered soil, structured soil is a technical process which is best done by people who understand all the specific components and have all the components readily available with testing and prior knowledge. Making good structural soil to specification is an extremely important endeavour. Structural swell that is not up to specification is a very difficult situation to remediate once it’s already in the ground.

If you enjoyed this edition of “Ask Tom” please share with your friends!

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Dealing with the Chafer Beetle – Nematode Protocol Update

Dealing with the Chafer Beetle – Nematode Protocol Update

Two options for addressing chafer beetle infestations

Are you or your clients having problems with the European Chafer beetle destroying lawn?  We suggest the protocols described below. Please keep in mind that the insecticide must be administered by a professional with a pesticide applicator’s certificate. The rest could be done by a homeowner, but it is a procedure that is far more likely to be done by a landscaper.

The first option is to do an Imidacloprid drench. After the drench, wait a few weeks, then remove the turf and as much soil as is reasonable—a minimum depth of 2 inches. Next, add soil to required depth; the soil can either be Terraseeded, hand seeded, or lay sod. Make sure to do this in late July/early August before applying the nematodes.

By removing the turf and some soil, you’re taking out most of the grubs, even the ones killed by the Imidacloprid. The large grubs are more difficult for the nematodes to kill. Applying nematodes after egg-hatch (in mid-late July) will target the small grubs, which is more effective. It should be emphasized that nematodes should be applied annually if the Chafer Beetle continue to be a problem in their area.

There is the issue that not all jurisdictions allow the application of this insecticide. Therefore, each customer must find out what is acceptable within their jobsite and municipality.

If insecticide use is not permitted in the area, there is a second option. First, apply the nematodes at recommended rates to the soil in April through June, and then again in September through early November; the nematodes should be applied in areas of known infestation where specific lawns show signs of chafer infestation. Remember that the lawns must remain damp for at least two weeks after nematode applications.

For both options, it is very important to follow healthy lawn practices as well established lawns are more resistant to chafer damage. These practices include aeration and topdressing, watering well at appropriate intervals, consistent fertilization, and cutting to a 2-inch height (not too short).

 

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Remediation

In order to resist the chafer beetle when projects are newly installed, consider the following recommendations. First, if permissible, drench the soil with Imidaclorprid. Then, excavate and dispose of native topsoil to a reasonable depth of 2-6 inches. Replace the excavated material with compost-based soil; the type of soil should be based on specific requirements, i.e. turf.  If applicable for the application, the use of grass species such as tall fescues and alternatives such as Microclover will help resist the beetle.   Overseed the remediated areas at 3-4 times the suggested rates; in theory, this makes it difficult for the chafer to get to the surface. It will also make it harder for the chafer predators (birds, raccoons, etc.) to do damage. Lastly, encourage the use of any product or method that will increase turf establishment as well-rooted turf will stand a better chance.

Overall, it is important to remember that the European chafer beetle is an ongoing problem that is unlikely to be solved easily. There is no silver bullet. Providing quality products and installation combined with a willingness to maintain the remediated areas will improve the customers chance of a successful project.

Check out our full infographic on “How to Deal with the Chafer Beetle”. Enjoy and please share!

 

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Here are some other resources we have found online that may be of help:

 

https://www.burncolandscape.com/chafer-beetles-lower-mainland/

 

http://www.cuttingedgevancouver.com/services/chafer-beetle-control/

 

http://www.landscapingvancouver.ca/chafer_beetle_vancouver.html

 

http://www.artknapps.ca/preventions-and-treatments-of-chafer-beetle/

 

http://www.coquitlam.ca/city-services/environment/european-chafer-beetle.aspx

 

www.coquitlam.ca/docs/default-source/city-services-documents/coquitlam—chafer-beetle-2015.pdf?sfvrsn=2

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Soil Series – Who is this Tom?

Soil Series – Who is this Tom? segment #2023

“Dirt is the stuff underneath your fingernails, whereas soil is an engineered composition of organic matter (sand, clay and organic matter) designed specifically for your project’s grow media and geographic location.”

– Tom McConkey

So who is this Tom McConkey?

Before we start talking about “soil”, we want to introduce our specialist.  Denbow is pleased to be offering this series of interviews with one of our valued partners,  Tom McConkey.  Tom is highly skilled in landscape and our local soil and has been in the field for over two decades.  Some of his specialty areas include Green Roofs, Urban Agriculture, Bio-Swales, Storm Water Management, Sustainable Turf Grass Practices.

Tom attended Carelton University and earned a degree to become an English teacher but as fate would have it, Tom decided to take a position at a local landscape company instead.

Early on there he got involved in the company’s compost practices. Tom became very interested in not only selling the compost, but understanding the composting process.

At the time, composting  was a new aspect of the landscape industry so Tom was given the freedom to get to really “dig in,” so to speak.  

During his early years, Tom was able cultivate his knowledge and skills while being mentored by Dr. Bill Herman of Pacific Soil Analysis.  Dr. Herman is a soil specialist who instructed Tom in both the composting process and more importantly, the beneficial use of organic matter as it pertains to the British Columbia Lower Mainland network.  

Denbow hopes this interview series with expert, Tom McConkey serves Landscape architects, city managers and landscapers as well as the average joe gardener in understanding the complexity of engineered soil and how it can assist their projects.  

Bark Mulch, the Ultimate Weed Suppressant

You have spent hours creating a beautiful yard. You have cleared the area where you envision blooming flowers, lush green shrubs, and perhaps even your grandmothers’ forget-me-nots. You painstakingly chose the appropriate locations for each of your new additions, place them with care, and begin the perfect regimen of fertilizer, water, and sunshine.

Andbenefits-of-mulch-in-your-garden-end then, the weeds begin.

These garden bullies seek to overtake your garden and sap nutrients from your beloved plantlife. As prolific pests, they have found those sun-drenched spots, and you know that simply pulling them out will begin a new, almost daily routine. However, utilizing weed-killing spray may have harsh repercussions for the rest of your plants.

What is the solution?

How can you naturally and effectively keep the weeds at bay?

Bark mulch is your answer for weed suppression.

Two Reasons Why You Should Use Bark Mulch as Weed Suppression Tool

Black MulchBark mulch is the best choice for use as a weed suppressant as it inhibits weeds in two critical ways. First, by applying a thick layer covering the soil, bark mulch deprives the weed seeds in the soil, and their resulting seedlings, of the sunlight desperately needed to germinate and thrive. This prevents current weed seeds from growing.

Second, in applying a thick layer covering the soil, bark mulch inhibits weed growth in another way. Bare soil, especially nutrient-rich topsoils, offer a sort of haven for weed seeds to land and settle in. Bark mulch acts as an inhospitable barrier, stopping weed seeds in their tracks and preventing them from coming into contact with the nutrient-rich soil in the first place.

In these two ways, bark mulch can stop any potential growth of weeds; in fact, the use of bark mulch can reduce weed growth by as much as 90 percent. The plants surrounded by bark mulch are then free to thrive without the needless competition for soil nutrients.

The Other Benefits of Using Mulch

While using bark mulch for weed suppression could be reason enough, there are plenty of other great benefits to be had when you apply mulch in your landscapes:

  • Helps retain soil moisture.   Maintaining a consistent amount of moisture in the soil around your plants is a key factor in keeping them healthy and thriving. Mulch helps prevent moisture from evaporating too quickly, thus allowing plants to be healthy for longer, especially in the heat of summer.
  • black mulch installation with blower truckFeeds the soil.  Organic mulches, such as bark mulches, break down gradually over time to add extra nutrients and organic matter to your soil. These types of organic matter are further broken down by worms and other microbes to enrich the soil and promote the healthier growth of your plant life.
  • Prevents heaving. In the autumn and winter months, bark mulch can also be helpful in preventing a phenomenon referred to as “heaving”. When the water in the soil freezes at night and then thaws during the day, this cycle can actually cause plants to pop out of the soil (known as “heaving”), which can, of course, be the end of your plant’s life.

With all these amazing benefits, bark mulch is your ultimate option for weed suppression. Help your plants grow without competition, in rich and moist soil year-round with one of our premium mulch options.

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Fall Landscaping Care: 6 Steps to Take Right Now

Fall Landscaping Care – 6 Steps to Take Right Now

With autumn nearly upon us and winter just past the fall bend, you’re probably not spending much time thinking about your lawn. But autumn, with its cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall, is the ideal time to prepare your lawn for next spring. (I know, next spring, really!!!)

Many homeowners think lawns need less care in the fall because the grass grows more slowly. In fact, just the opposite is true. During this time of year, grass is busily absorbing energy, moisture, and nutrients in preparation for a long, dormant winter. Give it a little attention now, and you’ll be rewarded with a lush, healthy spring lawn. Just follow these six tips.

Tip #1 KEEP ON MOWING

Fall Landscaping Care 6 Steps to Take Right Now-mowing a lawnThis seems a little self explanatory but it is important. (I’ll admit I’m guilty of ignoring this step in order to take advantage of the last little bit of good weather! )  Continue to water and mow your lawn, as needed, throughout the fall. As fall comes to a close and winter is just around the corner (usually Halloween for all of us in BC), drop the mower’s blade to its lowest setting for the last two cuttings of the year. That will allow more sunlight to reach the crown of the grass, and there will be less leaf to turn brown during the winter.

**Note: When you lower your mower blade, remember to do it gradually. If you take off too much of the blades of grass you could do more harm then good and make the lawn weak heading into the cold of winter. Reset the mower blade gradually to prevent any damage.

Tip #2 AERATE THE SOIL

Fall is also an ideal time to aerate your lawn so that oxygen, water, and fertilizer can easily reach the grass’s roots. You can rent a gas-powered, walk-behind lawn aerator for about $70 per day. The Fall Landscaping Care 6 Steps to Take Right Now- areating a lawnself-propelled machine will quickly punch holes into the soil and extract plugs of dirt. If you’ve got a very large yard—say, more than 3 or 4 acres—and don’t feel like aerating it yourself, hire a landscaping contractor.

Tip #3 RAKE THE LEAVES

I know raking leaves is no one’s idea of fun, but it’s important to remove fallen leaves from your lawn as soon as possible. You can either just go straight for the rake and manually pull up the leaves or you can use a power blower (gas or electric) to blow the leaves into a pile first and then rake the final few and place them in a compost bag. Make sure you don’t wait until all the leaves have fallen from the trees to start raking. If you do, the leaves will become wet from rain and morning dew, stick together, and form an impenetrable mat that if left unmoved will suffocate the grass and breed fungal diseases. Fungal diseases are not good for any plant in your yard. Fall Landscaping Care 6 Steps to Take Right Now-raking leaves

An alternative to raking leaves is to use a lawnmower fitted with a collection bag or vacuum system. These methods are particularly effective if you have a very large yard with many deciduous trees. Regardless of whether you use a rake or a lawnmower, just be sure to remove the leaves before they turn into a soggy, suffocating mess.

Tip #4 FERTILIZE FOR FUTURE GROWTH

Most lawn experts agree: If you fertilize your lawn only once a year, do it in the fall. The reason? Grass leaves grow much more slowly as the weather turns cool, but the grass roots and rhizomes continue to grow quickly. (Rhizomes are the horizontal plant stems that lie just beneath the soil’s surface; they produce the blades of grass above and the roots below.)  And yes the fertilizer companies don’t necessarily like if you only fertilize once a year…but there are those that do it and there are worse things to do to your lawns.  A fall application of fertilizer delivers essential nutrients for the grass to grow deep roots now and to keep nutrients on reserve for a healthy start next spring.Fall Landscaping Care 6 Steps to Take Right Now-spreading fertilizer

Wait until mid-to-late fall, then apply a dry lawn fertilizer to all grassy areas; be careful not to miss any spots. You could use a crank-style broadcast spreader, but for optimum coverage, consider using a walk-behind drop spreader. It takes a little longer, especially on hilly yards, but a drop spreader provides the best way to apply an even, consistent layer of fertilizer.

Tip #5 FILL IN BALD SPOTS

Autumn is also a great time of year to fix any bare, bald spots in your lawn. The quickest, easiest way to do this is with soil amender, one of our manufactured soils. Fall Landscaping Care 6 Steps to Take Right Now-filling in bald spots

Use a garden rake to scratch loose the soil at the bald spot in your lawn. Then spread a 2-3″ thick layer of soil over the area. Hand seed over the soil, lightly compact the mixture, then water thoroughly, and continue to water every other day for two weeks.

If you have so many bald spots that you require a lawn renovation, consider Terraseeding – our process of blowing in quality soil with seed and fertilizer injected directly as it’s blown onto your lawn area.

Tip #6 WEED CONTROL

If broadleaf weeds like dandelions have taken over your lawn, now’s the time to fight back. Weeds, like most plants, are in the energy-absorbing mode during the fall. They’re drinking in everything that comes their way, including weed killers. Apply an herbicide now and the weeds won’t return in the spring. Plus you can use bark mulch early next spring on the surrounding landscape to ensure weed suppression is at it’s best. close-up-of-mulch-

Read the package label before use. Most herbicide manufacturers recommend applying the weed killer during early-to-mid autumn, when daytime temperatures are consistently above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

 

 

We hope you enjoyed the six tips to prepare your lawn for next year. Please feel free to read the original article here, or you can feel free to share this with your friends! Happy fall everyone.

 

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7 Habits of Successful Waterers

“I am not trying to be a bad waterer, I just don’t think I fully get how to be a good waterer.”

If you identify with that statement, this article may be for you.

The single most important resource in landscape care is water. In varying degree all plants need water to survive and thrive. So much time, money, and frustration can be saved with just a little attention toward proper watering practices. The excuses for not watering are as numerous as the day is long and we’ve heard them all.

Though strategic placement of landscape mulch in garden areas and around trees, shrubs and flower beds will prolong moisture retention of the soil, a consistent watering regime is still needed. The basic fact is that without water – or with too much – all life fails. It’s a simple biological fact.

You can be sure that if you practice the following seven habits religiously, you’ll see a definite improvement in the health and vigor of your plants. These habits will enable you to:

  • use less water
  • keeps you in touch with your plants
  • turn watering into a calming activity rather than a stressful task

Read on for the full article:

7 Habits of Successful Waterers

The single most important resource in landscape care is water. In varying degree all plants need water to survive and thrive. So it stands to reason that my single biggest frustration as a landscape professional is convincing landscape owners to pay attention to watering. So much time, money, and frustration can be saved with just a little attention toward proper watering practices.

The excuses for not watering are as numerous as the day is long and I’ve heard them all. I can tell you from experience that none of them is valid, especially if you’re a shrub, tree, or other plant struggling to get a drink of water to survive. While all this may sound a little harsh, the basic fact is that without water – or with too much – all life fails. It’s a simple biological fact.

Just recently I was discussing watering with a long-time client whom I’m after every year to water more. I finally said, “You know I love you, but you are a terrible waterer.” Her response was priceless. She paused, gave me a long, low “hmmmm” and said, “Yes, I know, but maybe that is something you can help me with. I mean, I am not trying to be a bad waterer, I just don’t think I fully get how to be a good waterer.”

 

how-to-water-plants.jpgJohn Lysak dutifully watering new annuals planted for a splash of summer color.

That made me think, “she certainly isn’t the only bad waterer; how can I help people wrestling with how much – or how little – to water?” So, at my client’s urging, I came up with these “Seven Habits for Successful Watering.” I promise you that if you practice these seven habits religiously, you’ll see a definite improvement in the health and vigor of your plants:

  1. Visit your plants regularly

Seriously, get to know your plants and your landscape intimately. Some areas are high and hot, other low and wet, still others feature trees and shade, while some might be wide open and exposed to the drying sun. All have different watering needs. You can’t truly know this if you don’t visit them. I take a walk every day after work as a way to decompress from the day, check in to see what is in bloom, and tend to the occasional weed patch. Yes, I am a professional…and I still find weeds in my garden!!

  1. Touch the soil often

Nothing provides accurate information like engaging your senses. All soils are different – do you know what types of soil you have? Is it sandy and dry? Soft and moist? Do you know if it holds water well or does it just run right through? These things matter. Get your hands in the soil and know for sure. Something as simple as seeing some wilt and then scratching at the soil at the base of the plant may tell you if that wilt is from being over dry or over wet.

  1. Watch the water

You can water all day long, but that’s never a good idea – it’s wasteful and counter-productive. In fact, the single biggest waste of water and cause of pollution is run-off from unmonitored watering.

If you watch water carefully, you’ll notice that at first it runs off dry soil until you achieve some saturation. Then, once fully saturated, water simply runs right through. What’s the lesson here? More is not better. You want to water just enough to enable it to soak in, and sometimes that requires a little help.

Try watering very lightly for a longer period of time. Or perhaps create a little well to hold the water and encourage it to sink in rather than run off. Try wetting the top soil, then brush it away with your hands to see how far it sunk in. Just imagine that old dry sponge at the kitchen sink – it takes a moment for the water to break that dry seal before the sponge will accept the water – same with over dry soils.

  1. Watch the weather

This may come as a surprise, but plants sweat just like people. Well, not exactly the same. While people have sweat glands, plants have stomata – tiny pores that dot the plant’s surfaces. Stomata enable the plant to rid itself of excess water through transpiration – a process that removes through evaporation as much as 97-99 percent of the water taken up by its roots.

Weather, then, affects transpiration just like sweating. The hotter the nights, the more plants transpire. Heat and humidity make plants “sweat” through their leaves, drying them out and putting them at risk if water isn’t replaced in a timely and efficient manner. For example, some plants love misting while others hate it.

Knowing your plants and what they like is important, just like understanding the local weather and environmental conditions. Generally speaking, we don’t need to do much watering in New England in April or May, but by the time we hit June, soils are drying up, the rains are slowing down, and plants could likely use a good drink.

  1. Frequency and duration

Not all plants need the same duration or frequency of watering. If you practice habits 1-4, you’ll be able to accurately gauge how much water your plants will need to stay happy and healthy. Almost all plant resource books and websites that give you plant data will suggest what a plant likes – moist soil, dry soil, loamy soil, sandy soil – these “likes” correlate with water needs. Moist and loamy soils will indicate an affinity for regular “dampness” in the soil. Dry and sandy soil lovers will be okay with periods of dry out.

  1. Adjust your irrigation system

Many landscapes benefit from irrigation systems, but it’s important to test and adjust them. One of the biggest issues with irrigation systems is the “set it and forget it” mindset. Many landscape owners simply set the automatic watering timer and then assume that will take care of things. But no single setting will deliver the proper amount of water throughout the three distinctly different New England growing seasons. Without making seasonal adjustments, you’re guaranteed of over-and under-watering throughout the year.

Here is something to keep in mind; in the springtime, the plant “juices” are flowing upwards from the soil to the tip tops of the trees. The plants are pulling energy, liquids, and nourishment up from their roots and pushing out new spring growth. If you envision having a cool glass of water and using a straw to pull up a refreshing drink…that is not much different than what the plants are doing. So all the trees (effectively the biggest straws) are pulling water out of the soil with great force. Rain replenishes some, but as you all know, one 80-degree day and you can feel super parched, super fast. Same goes for plants and the big ones can take up the resource faster than the little ones.

  1. Make watering easy

Nobody likes doing things that are difficult or frustrating. Consider turning what could be a chore into a relaxing and enjoyable experience by making the task easy!

I am a firm believer in point-of-contact watering. That’s the fancy term for using a hose or a watering can to water the ONE plant that needs it. If you have one operational spigot in your landscape you can be sure that watering won’t happen. The WORST two tasks of gardening in my opinion are dragging and coiling heavy, dirty hoses. I confess I have watched a plant suffer and die before I got around to dragging a hose out to rescue it.

Now I have a “free-line” on my irrigation system and spigots that are placed roughly every 75 to 80 feet throughout my 2.5-acre landscape. I keep a 100-foot hose coiled in several of the location and I can easily access water whenever and wherever I want.

My approach is to run the irrigation system to provide a steady moisture level — not overwatering or creating run-off. I walk my landscape every day and when a plant needs water, I grab the hose or fill a watering can and spot-water right where it’s needed. This uses less water and keeps me in touch with my plants. And, as hokey as this may sound, it provides a wonderful way to meditate and unwind from my day. Watering has turned into a calming activity rather than a stressful task.

Now don’t you feel like getting out there and watering?

The original article was posted on theGardenContinuum.com –  7 Habits of Successful Waterers.

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BENEFITS OF USING MULCH IN YOUR GARDEN

THE BENEFITS OF USING MULCH IN YOUR GARDEN

Those of us with a green thumb have two challenges when it comes to gardening: maintaining a healthy and moist garden bed, and keeping the weeds from invading. Daily watering is not always possible for a variety of reasons, including conservation of water and summer watering restrictions. Regular weeding, especially with a large garden plot, requires not only a good amount of time, but also puts repetitive strain on knees and back which can hinder a gardener’s ability to keep up with the job. Reducing the amount of energy and water required to maintain a garden can be found in utilizing more sustainable gardening practices. One excellent option is to introduce mulch to your garden.

THE KEY BENEFITS OF USING MULCH IN YOUR GARDEN

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There are a number of benefits of using mulch in your garden; here are a few that may encourage you to get started.

 

  • Keeps the weeds away. A layer of mulch on top of the garden soil may be the best solution to creating a weed-free bed. A good coating of mulch will inhibit the germination and growth of weeds in your soil.  

 

  • Holds in moisture and nutrients. Not only are weeds an embarrassing sight for sore eyes, they can steal both nutrients and water from the plants in your garden. Laying mulch will help the soil hold in its moisture and nutrients so the plants can absorb what they need, and organic mulch will also release additional nutrients into the soil. Laying mulch will also help ensure your soil will not dry out too quickly, especially while at work during a hot summer day, or on vacation and asking your neighbour to water for you.

 

  • Regulates soil temperature. Mulch also helps regulate the temperature of the soil so plants or trees don’t get stressed from high to low fluctuations. This means that adding mulch to your garden can actually be beneficial not only in spring and summer, but also act as a protectant for your soil and year-round plants in the cold and wet weather of winter months.  

 

  • Makes a home for the bugs you want, and repels the ones you don’t. Mulch can increase biodiversity in your yard by giving a variety of insects and other tiny creatures homes and shelter, such as earthworms who continue the process of improving soil structure. Certain types of mulch can also help repel ticks, gnats and fleas.

 

  • Protects the soil from the both nature and people. Mulch breaks down very slowly, protecting from the elements such as the drying heat of sun, but also from heavy rainfall, preventing it from becoming too compact, or even eroding. A stray weed whacker or lawn mower that comes too closely to your garden can also do damage, but mulch can protect your plants by providing a buffer.  

To receive the best benefits from using mulch in your garden, add a layer of at least 5 – 7.5 cm (2 – 3 inches) and maintain it as long as you have plants in your garden. A vegetable garden will appreciate the added support for its season, while trees and shrubs in your yard can benefit all year round.

benefits of using mulch in your garden 1

WHAT TYPES OF MULCH ARE THERE?

There are many types of mulch to choose from, but most of them can fall into one of two groups.

ORGANIC: This includes wood chips, leaves, compost, peat moss, grass, pine-needles and straw. This may be the superior of the two because as organic mulch decomposes, it will add beneficial organic nutrients to your plants. Be careful to ensure the grass clippings or leaves used do not contain pesticides or fertilizers, as these can contaminate the natural processes of decomposing.  

INORGANIC: This includes stones or rubber chips or any similar material. These mulches will still inhibit weeds and moisture loss, but will not improve your soil condition or add any nutrients.

A FEW TIPS FOR MULCHING

Mid-spring is the best time to lay down mulch, in order to keep plants at their healthiest from the start. If this is your first time adding mulch, remember to weed your bed thoroughly before you begin. If you already have a layer of mulch from the previous season, be sure to break it up, or remove some of it, before adding a new layer. If the layer gets too thick when adding to existing mulch, your mulch might not decompose and will hinder the possible root growth. Be sure to stay within the 5 – 7.5 cm range at all times.

While mulch can benefit your trees, be sure not to pile it up around the trunks of trees. Excessive mulch can rot the tree’s trunk and will create a haven for insects that will damage the tree. It also encourages the tree to grow a secondary root system away from the rot. When this happens, the original, deep roots can start to wither and make your tree vulnerable in dry spells. Be sure to keep mulch 6 – 12 inches away from the base of your trees or shrubs The same holds true with your plants: be sure to give your plants some breathing room by keeping mulch about 2.5 – 5 cm away from the plant crown.

 

WATERING WITH MULCH

You have prepared your garden, planted, and added the necessary layer of mulch: the hard work is done! Watering should now be very easy. At the beginning of the season, and for the first 3 – 4 weeks after planting, a deep watering that thoroughly soaks the garden will be needed at least once a week. If you have great soil, a nice layer of mulch and water efficient plants, your garden should thrive off natural rainfalls only (depending on the season). If you add plants later, or experience any times of drought, more water will be necessary. If you are growing crops to eat, once food begins to grow, you may need to water more often as your crops will need the excess water to create lush and nutritious food.

benefits of using mulch in your garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interested in experiencing the benefits of using mulch in your garden? Let us know!