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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Wood Chips and Roses

Q. I want to put wood chips around my roses to keep the weeds from returning. Is this a good mulch for the roses? Or might it attract ants or insects I don't want?  I have not noticed wood mulch at any other homes nearby.
Roses love three things when growing in Mohave Desert soils; compost applied to the soil surface, woodchip mulch applied on top of it and exposure to lots of sunlight but avoiding the heat and direct sunlight of the late afternoon.

A. Roses, and nearly all plants in the Rose family such as most of our fruit trees, thrive in our desert soils when woodchips are used around them. One of their biggest benefits, besides weed control, is soil improvement. And our desert soils need massive amounts of help in this area.
When growing roses in the desert give them plenty of room so that they have air circulation between the plants and through them. This helps to prevent diseases like powdery mildew.
            Mulch is applied to the soil surface around plants to assist in controlling weeds, improvement of the soil, reduce the frequency of watering, keep the roots cooler and to improve good “animal life” in the soil. The best mulch is made from shredding and chipping local landscape trees.
            The greater diversity in types of trees used to make woodchips, the better the woodchips are for the soil and plants. Personally, I don’t like wood chips made from palms and trees with large thorns like many mesquite trees.
            Mulch is made from many sources. Anything applied to the surface of the soil could be referred to as mulch. This includes rock, gravel, sand, plastic, newspaper, old carpet but the best mulch for soil improvement comes from a wide variety of woodchips.
            Weeds are suppressed with a 3 to 4-inch layer of woodchips but a few tough weeds will poke through such as Bermudagrass, palm seedlings, nutgrass and well established perennial weeds.

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