Much Ado About Mulch
Tree growing conditions in western Colorado are tough. From drought-stricken summers to freezing winters, nutrient-poor soils to threatening pests, trees need all the help they can get from their caretakers. Proper mulching is one of the easiest and most effective ways a homeowner can keep their trees in good health. Mulching creates a buffer around trees that eliminates competition with grass, moderates soil temperature, improves soil aeration, and reduces compaction. Proper mulching can reduce loss of soil moisture, reducing the need for watering by up to 50%. Furthermore, mulching protects the tree’s trunk from injury by lawn mowers and weed whackers, which in turn decreases exposure to rot and pathogens. Composted organic mulches such as wood and bark chips are preferred for trees, shrubs and perennials. Chips should be spread in a 2” – 4” deep ring around the tree; soils with better drainage can accommodate more mulch. Cultivating the chips into the soil should be avoided, as this can actually lead to depletion of soil Nitrogen during decomposition of the wood chips that get pushed underground. Mulch should not be in direct contact with the tree trunk, and should extend to the drip line of the tree for best results. There are plenty of threats facing Colorado trees, but good cultural practices such as proper mulching, keeps trees healthy and vastly more resilient in the face of stressors.
Another Beetle Found in Colorado
Emerald ash borer, an invasive insect responsible for the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees in 21 states, has been recently found in Colorado. This small, green metallic beetle, found on September 23rd in Boulder County, attacks all ash species. Some signs of infestation are: a general decline in the appearance of the tree, thinning of upper branches and twigs, loss of leaves, and S-shaped tunneling under the bark. Earth-Wise will continue to monitor the situation for our customers. For additional information, visit www.colorado.gov/ag/dpi and click on "Emerald Ash Borer".