Mulching 201

Mulching does many things:

  • Protects soil from extremes in temperature and moisture
  • Inhibits the growth of weeds
  • Protects the trunks of trees from injury
  • Can add organic matter to the soils
Lots of different materials qualify as mulch, from rocks to recycled rubber, but the most effective mulch in the urban landscape is arborist wood chips. Why?
Coarse woody debris, or wood chips, break down slowly and release their stored energy back into the ground for use by other plants. Interestingly, their slow release rate is less likely to overstimulate plants in the way that a commercial fertilizer or compost would do.

Wood chips also require a fungal relationship to break down. This fungal symbiosis then reacts with roots of plants in a form called mychorizae (see image above), which is neither root or fungus, but a whole new organism benefiting both. Fungal growth also inhabits the niche that weeds like to grow in.

In other words, more fungal activity in soils equals less weeds!