The many benefits of mulch
Nothing says fall in southeast Texas like a freshly mulched yard. The cooler temperatures and turning of the leaves (such as it is this far south) bring out the gardener in all of us as we get outside to enjoy the better weather, clean out and do heavy trimming, and add color for curb appeal. But mulch isn’t just for keeping your yard looking good; it’s also a key factor in keeping your plants and underlying soils healthy and feeling good. No matter how large or small your project — or who’s going to enjoy it — mulch adds quality in more ways than one.
Mulch is a temperature regulator. Even with our more moderate winters along the Gulf Coast, flowers, bushes and trees benefit from a blanket of mulch that helps maintain optimal soil temperature. Of course, mulch helps protect shallow-root plants from frost and freeze damage, but it also protects from the South’s steep temperature shifts that confound weathermen and gardens alike. More importantly, properly insulated soil means the all-important organisms like earthworms and microbes stay active longer, doing their good work to improve the soil from below.
Mulch is a moisture optimizer. A top layer of premium mulch helps improve the underlying soil and prevents plants from drying out too quickly. Of course this is obvious in the Texas summers when it can be difficult to give plants the proper amount of water at the right time. But many people forget plants need moisture protection in the winter months as well. Dry and windy conditions and inconsistent watering can combine to sap otherwise healthy plants, even in the milder winter months.
Mulch is a quality controller. Beyond temperature and moisture protection, mulch helps minimize soil erosion and compaction that can go unimpeded in both winter and summer months. Mulch actually helps increases soil nutrition as it decomposes, thus improving the underlying soil structure. And mulch helps suppress weeds that rob vital nutrients from surrounding trees, bushes, shrubs and flowers.
This quality-control factor helps explain why all-organic, premium mulches are so beneficial to the garden, said Triple-S Compost’s Grant Hileman. “Green-waste mulches like those we make here at Triple-S definitely have an amplifier effect in terms of amending the underlying soil,” he said. “Better mulches leech better nutrients into the soil. Adding quality mulch to your next project is an investment with returns you can count on.”
Hileman cautions gardeners against using too much mulch or improperly laying it too close to tree trunks. Too much mulch can smother root growth or create a layer that doesn’t decompose. “When this happens, the soil becomes too compacted and water and nutrients have a hard time penetrating to the roots,” he said. “A layer about three inches deep should be optimal for most beds in our area.”
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You might be surprised to discover how many mulch options are available. Our seasoned soil experts can help you determine what’s best for your property or project, given your preferences and budget. Give us a call today to learn more.