Tree care professionals are always on the lookout for the best mulch for tree planting in landscaping. Organic mulches, such as wood chips, pine needles, hard and soft wood bark, cocoa shells, leaves and compost mixes, are preferred as they break down, improve soil structure and increase soil fertility. A Washington State University study has shown that using the right amount of all-natural mulch can significantly reduce the amount of water trees need. Natural mulches reduce water evaporation by around 35%, while synthetic mulches are much less effective. For optimal water retention, a medium textured mulch is recommended.
Mixing fine or very fine mulch into the soil can also help retain water where trees need it most. Shredded bark is one of the most common and least expensive types of mulch and is a great choice for slopes as it decomposes relatively slowly. It is also often a byproduct of other industries and is considered environmentally friendly. Pine needles, seeds or wood chips are all good choices for tree planting. Color doesn't matter to the plant, but avoid any mulch that smells sour or is warm to the touch.
A thin layer of compost can be used as mulch, but it should be covered with larger particles such as wood chips to prevent weed growth. When planting your spring garden all year round, especially if you add new beds or gardens, remember to use a shallow doughnut-shaped earthen dam around the outer edge of the planting hole to form a shallow saucer. This helps reduce stress on plant roots and prevents frost from accumulating (when smaller plants are thrown out of the ground), as it freezes and thaws repeatedly. Loosely fix the shaft with a flexible material and watch for damage caused by insects or diseases. The amount of water needed for a tree depends on its size; while a small shrub may only need half a gallon, ten gallons may be needed for a 2-inch diameter tree. Research from Kansas State University found that if best mulching practices are followed, a young tree can benefit from a growth rate close to twice that of trees without mulch.
Trees that come out of containers dry out very quickly and need more frequent irrigation than B&B trees during the first few weeks, even during autumn months which is a good time for root growth. Mulching should not extend to the drip line; placing mulch in a small circle around the base of the tree will help protect it from damage but for plants to get the most benefit from mulching, the mulch must extend to the drip line of the plant or tree. Covering soil with clear gardening cloth first if you use rocks and stones as mulch in an area where plants won't grow (such as under a deck) will help prevent weed growth. The key to getting your plant off to a good start is to plant it properly and provide it with adequate water during its critical first year. Use two sturdy stakes stuck firmly into the ground just outside the root ball at planting time for a 2- to 3-inch diameter tree (measured 4 inches above root broadening). Pruning should be minimized until the tree is well established and growing vigorously in its new location. When selecting your mulch for tree planting in landscaping, you'll want to choose one that offers all the benefits that come with organic materials such as wood chips, pine needles, hard and soft wood bark, cocoa shells, leaves and compost mixes.
You'll also want a variety of sizes so that your trees can enjoy all these benefits. Knowing when to add mulch to flowerbeds and how much to use is essential to keeping all plants healthy.