Using wood chips is not only a good gardening habit that provides moisture and nutrients but it benefits the environment because waste wood goes into the garden instead of a local landfill. Wood mulch is economical, readily available, and it’s easy to apply and remove. Unlike some lightweight organic “mulches,” wood chips are more suitable to withstand winds and erosion and are great for inhibiting weed germination and growth. Other wood mulch benefits include temperature moderation and protection from mechanical injury from weed eaters and lawnmowers.
Despite good intentions, there is a great deal of misunderstanding regarding proper mulch application. The most common mistake is allowing mulch to come in contact with the bark of the tree or bushes. This can cause damage to the plant by creating an ideal environment for insects and fungi and can actually rot the wood, causing decay and stress for the tree or shrub. The correct way to install mulch around established trees and bushes involves covering the soil surface for the entire root zone of the plant with roughly 3-inches of mulch not to exceed with additional year-after-year applications. Here is an illustration of proper mulching:
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