Mulch around your trees to save water and cut down on weeds.
Mulch is a thin layer of organic or inorganic material placed on soil. Some typical organic examples include chipped bark, compost, saw dust, grass clippings and leaf mold; a typical inorganic example is shredded tires. ("Organic" in this sense means derived from living things, not necessarily chemical-free; when purchasing mulch, look for the USDA-organic seal to buy pesticide-free mulch.) In many ways, spreading mulch around trees in a manicured yard re-creates the natural environment of a forest, where leaves fall, build up and gradually decompose on the forest floor.
Mulch cools the earth below in warm weather, and shields sensitive roots and plantings from the cold in the winter. Mulching holds in moisture, decreasing the amount of watering necessary typically by hundreds of gallons a year. Mulches help protect tree roots, and while the organic varieties provide valuable fertilizer as they break down over time, the inorganic varieties are useful in some cases because they're more long-lived (and they often give new life to materials that might otherwise be landfilled or incinerated).
Mulches cut down on the number of weeds that can compete with your trees, making mulch part of an organic or integrated pest management yard and garden maintenance plan. The few weeds that do sprout can be pulled with ease.
Gardening experts recommend spreading mulch to a thickness of about two to four inches, but not more. (Over-mulching has become something of a fad.) Make sure to leave several inches of space between the mulch and the three trunks to discourage rodents and rot. Replenish mulches when decomposition thins the mulch layer. While mulch can be applied at any time of year, late spring is the best time to get started with mulching around trees.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.