Many contractors choose mulch because of the well-cared-for look it gives a landscape.

With mulch, the result can be a better growing environment for trees and their roots. Landscapers should be aware that, generally, the root system of a tree spreads out, not down. “The roots of most trees extend out a significant distance from the trunk. Most of the fine absorbing roots of trees are located within inches of the soil surface,” says Jim Skiera, executive director of the International Society of Arboriculture. These shallow roots are essential for taking up water and minerals for trees, and they require oxygen to survive. A thin layer of mulch, spread widely, can provide a healthier environment where these roots grow.

Mulch Benefits

Properly applied mulch provides many benefits to the health of a tree. Unlike trees growing in a forested environment, urban trees are not typically planted in an optimal environment for root growth and mineral uptake. Typically, urban environments are harsher with poor soil conditions and large fluctuations in moisture and temperature. Applying mulch can help reduce the stress of such conditions through these benefits: helping to maintain soil moisture with less evaporation; reducing the number of weeds; providing insulation by keeping soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter; protecting from damage caused by lawn equipment such as weed-eaters and lawnmowers; improving soil fertility, aeration and drainage.

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