Q. Please provide me with recommendations for types of mulch for fruit trees.
A. By definition, mulches lay on top of the soil surface and are not mixed with the soil. There are organic mulches such as wood chips and there are inorganic mulches such as rock and plastic. Most mulches shade the soil surface, help to conserve water and reduce weed problems.
|Results in one year of fruit trees planted with and without surface wood mulch.|
Mulches made from wood decompose over time as long as moisture is present. Decomposing wood mulch enriches the soil. Rock, plastic and bark mulches do not. Their purpose is primarily to add beauty and reduce weed problems.In the case of plastic inches that are exposed to sunlight, they are intended to warm the soil early in the spring for faster route and plant development.
|Even if you have rock mulch, pull the rock mulch away from fruit trees |
and apply 3 to 4 inches of wood mulch in the an area as large as possible
underneath the tree.
Any wood mulch, not bark mulch, works well around fruit trees. The best kind is a mixture of different types of wood and decomposes in 2 to 3 years. You don't want to use only bark mulch if your purpose is soil improvement.
Decaying wood does take nitrogen from the soil but this is not a problem as long as trees and shrubs are fertilized annually.
Wood and rock mulches help keep the soil cool, conserve water and reduce the work required for weeding. Only wood mulch enriches the soil. Rock mulch contributes to mineralization of the soil which means it contributes to the depletion of organic matter, it doesn't add to it.
Some of the best mulches for fruit trees are woodchips from a variety of trees but excluding trees with long thorns such as many of the mesquite trees, athel and salt cedar and palms. Palm trimmings decompose very slowly. Woodchips from trees with long thorns end up puncturing the bottom of a sneaker or vehicle tires.
Just about any wood source will pose no problems including eucalyptus, cedar, and even oleander. An excellent mulch is also the residue left behind from stump grinders.
Plastic mulches are used primarily for vegetable production and should not be applied underneath rock or wood mulch for weed control. Never.