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Mulch 411
Mulch 411
Mulch is a great way to give your landscape that finished look. But did you also
know that it has huge benefits for your plants? The quality of plant we see above
the soil depends so much upon what is happening at and below the soil surface.
Mulch is advantageous to many of these unseen functions.

An important contribution of mulch is reducing moisture loss through evaporation.
It shades the soil surface, slowing down the sunís hot summer rays from drying
out the soil. An additional benefit of this soil shading is that when applied
thick enough, it also does a great job at suppressing weed seed germination! Here in Illinois, we are no strangers to temperature fluctuations. A layer of mulch
helps regulate the soil temperature, keeping the roots cooler in summer and
insulating them against the bitter cold in winter. This also lessens frost heaving.

Rain erodes bare soil as it is quickly washed away with no resistance. Mulch prevents
this by absorbing the impact of the water droplets and slowing the flow of water.

We often get asked which kind of mulch is best. At scott flanagan landscape, our mulch
of choice is premium hardwood bark. The bark takes longer to break down than wood,
contains more nitrogen and it also has a pleasing uniformity and natural color.
Wood mulch is usually made from recycled wood, pallets, construction debris, etc. and
thereís really no way to know what kind of chemicals it has been in contact with.
The wood mulch is dyed, usually red, brown or black and the dye may fade in sunlight.

Though it can work in certain situations, we donít often recommend gravel mulch.
We really prefer the additional benefit of the bark mulch breaking down and adding
organic material to the soil, thereby increasing fertility and soil structure.
Improving the soil also encourages beneficial soil organisms and worms, who aerate
the soil with their tunneling and leaving behind their nutrient dense castings.
This translates to healthier plants! Installing and removing gravel mulch is very
labor intensive as well.

At scott flanagan landscape, we generally recommend laying down mulch in a layer 2-3
inches thick. One very important tip is to make sure to push back any mulch from
trees and plant crowns. Rather than making a volcano shape of mulch, think more
along the lines of a donut where the tree or plant is in the donut hole. Allowing
deep mulch to sit directly against bark will trap moisture and may lead to rot, insect
and disease issues.

Thriving plants are the framework of great landscapes. Mulch is one of those simple and
inexpensive investments that pays dividends in the health of your plants. Check
out this in-depth article for more information:


Nicole Gear
scott flanagan landscape

Scott Flanagan Landscape    708.460.5884    sfl@scottflanaganlandscape.com