Florida Landscape Doctor

Which Mulch to Use? You Decide – Here are some facts.

Cypress – Eucalyptus – Malaleuca – Pine Bark – Pine Straw – Rubber

Landscape mulches add to the beauty of all landscapes and have other beneficial properties. One is weed control. They help control weed growth to a certain extent. Secondly they help retain moisture levels in the soil. Third, mulch provides nutrients. Fourth, mulch helps to control erosion and fifth, it insulates the soil, protecting plants from extreme temperature variations. They say beauty is only skin deep and that is about right even for the mulches. The first initial application is usually 2 to 3 inches deep and yearly it needs to be refurbished not only for beauty but also for depth. Too much mulch can be harmful. Building mulch up too high around trees will cause more harm than good. The roots of the tree will try to grow closer to the surface of the mulch causing a girdling effect which can strangle the tree. Mulches can also compact from excessive rains. The moisture beads up and doesn’t make it through the mulch and the plant doesn’t receive the moisture needed. Aeration is needed often for the mulch to prevent this drying out effect to the soil. With compaction also comes fungal growth in the mulch which can cause a disease to your plants and trees. Aerate the mulch often. This will help change the color as well as prevent compaction. Let’s discuss a little about each mulch. Cypress mulch from the native tree is made up of both cypress wood and bark obtained from lumber yards mostly from whole trees. It does not settle too much. The color at initial application is pink. The color at two years will be a pinkish gray.  Eucalyptus mulch is made from eucalyptus trees, which are originally from Australia. They are grown here specifically to be made into mulch, and the  eucalyptus mulch does not settle much. The color of eucalyptus mulch at initial application will be light reddish brown, then by  two years it will turn pinkish gray.  The malaleuca mulch is made from an Australian tree that has become an invasive tree in south Florida The malaleuca mulch also has almost no settling after two years. The color of malaleuca  mulch at initial application is dark reddish brown, and then at two years it will be a pinkish gray. Pine straw is from a native tree called the Pine Tree and is also another desirable mulch. Harvested from the pine tree and baled up and shipped, it has proven to be a very effective mulch that settles well. The color of pine straw at the initial application is reddish brown, and then after 2 years it will be pinkish gray. From the same native  Pine Tree comes the Pine Bark mulch. There is very little or no compaction with pine bark.  It is considered an excellent soil conditioner. As a matter of fact, pine bark is used in the process for making potting soil mixes. It is an excellent soil additive with acid in it. Acid loving plants love pine bark. The color of Pine Bark at initial application will be Reddish Brown / Light Brown. The color at 2 years  will be Dark Reddish Gray. The least change in color after one year was the Cypress and the Pine bark. The most change in color after one year was the Eucalyptus and the Pine Straw. Rubber Mulch is just what it sound like. It is made from recycled rubber tires. With a 2 inch depth of rubber mulch it helps control weed growth. The rubber mulch does not provide nutrients to the plants therefore like other mulches the plants do need nutrients from fertilizers. It is UV protected. Colors include Blue, Red, Brown, Green, Black, and Pine Bark as a color. Manage your landscape properly. Use mulch wisely and your landscape will benefit greatly. You decide which mulch to use.

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