Mulch is an important ingredient in your landscape. It prevents erosion, helps control weeds, minimizes evaporation and helps moderate soil temperature which protects your plants’ roots. Although mulch helps control weeds, it doesn’t kill existing ones. These are some common problems with mulching that can cause damage to your plants.
- Mulching against tree trunks and shrub stems. This can cause the bark to rot and create openings for diseases and insects to enter.
- Letting mulch accumulate too thickly. In Asheville and western North Carolina, it’s best to maintain a mulch layer of 2″ thick for groundcovers and perennials and 3″ thick for trees and shrubs. Rather than installing another layer of mulch just to make it look fresh, try fluffing it up with a rake or removing some of the old mulch and installing a light layer of mulch over the existing. Check for areas on slopes where the mulch has accumulated into thick piles and rake it to other areas.
- Using poor quality mulch. Yes, there is a difference in the qualities of mulch. One of my clients found out the hard way when they remulched their property with a cheap mulch bought from a trunk beside the road. Unbeknownst to them and probably the supplier, it had a projectile fungus in it that shot small dark spots on their house, walkways, windows and vehicles. Not only was it unsightly but it was very hard to remove. We recommend a double or triple ground pine bark or hardwood mulch, depending on the site. Although it breaks down more quickly and can be slippery, you can also use pine straw as mulch.