Is your mulch healthy?

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Arney

Mulching your landscape is one of the quickest ways to improve the look of your landscape. Get your wheelbarrow ready … it’s time to mulch!

Mulch depth should not exceed 3 inches. Years of new mulch will build up over time and can actually harm your plants. A thick layer of mulch can be a sign of an unhealthy landscape. A deep layer can begin to starve a plant’s roots of oxygen. Mulch up against the base of the plant can cause the main stem to rot away. Excessive mulch will soak up a great deal of water, not allowing it to penetrate the soil into the plant’s root zone.  Additionally, this layer of mulch can harbor insects and fungus.All of these will contribute to the declining health of the landscape.

Mulch, which is basically dead plant material, will decompose overtime, similar to a compost pile. It has high carbon content and low nitrogen content. It is not in the proper balance to decompose quickly, especially when it begins to pile up.Combined with anaerobic conditions (low oxygen), it can take years to decompose … while plants suffer.

Applying some granular nitrogen fertilizer along with stirring the mulch will aid in decomposition, especially if you are able to mix some of the landscape soil in with it. Adding some nitrogen, oxygen and some beneficial bacteria from the soil, you will have improved the condition of the mulch and the environment the plants live in.  It’s beneficial to perform these tasks prior to adding new mulch. However, it can be done at any time.

By performing these simple tasks, you can improve the condition of the mulch. A balanced mulch environment will result in healthier plants, increased vigor and contribute more to the longevity of your landscape.

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