As I’ve often quipped, “If everyone would just mulch and irrigate, I wouldn’t have a job”! I can’t stress the importance of mulch enough, especially this year, and this time of year…
Soil temps are about to go up, way up, and the roots of our trees don’t dig that at all.
Every favorable aspect of a happy root zone diminishes when the soil temperature goes from warm to baking hot. An insulating layer of mulch performs many tasks.
Native trees growing on their own, when young, prepare for a long happy life from the start by pioneering a root system in harmony with its’ natural climate, soil moisture conditions, and mineral makeup. Knowing that down the road there will be a couple hundred summers it will have to endure, it designs, and manufactures a root system to handle the extremes. When we plant a tree cultivated in a nursery, we need to consider that we are starting out with a different breed of cat, often with a root system opposite of what occurs in nature. We may not have a 4′ long taproot to begin with, so adjustments must be made.
Think of roots being more like a sponge than a straw, and you are headed in the right direction. Beneficial microorganisms, fungi and the like, don’t favor accelerated soil temperature either, and are the tool we will need to use to stimulate, promote, and sustain happy roots!
Neither too hot, nor too cold, too wet, or too dry, we should attain that perfect “Goldilocks” of just right soil conditions for our tree.
As time progresses, the roots will “adjust” their attitude and settle down, so to speak.
Mimicking the conditions that a particular type of tree finds friendly is really not that difficult, given we do a little research.
Trees in a lawn, or surrounded by asphalt are, believe it or not, mulched to some degree, but the trees existing within these conditions are doing just that, existing.
No tree ever evolved under a putting green or paved parking lot, they can however, survive it. The reason for this is because these conditions keep soil temps down.
The lack of oxygen, addition of petroleum leach aids, compaction, big doses of synthetic fertilizers be damned, trees are true survivors, except when it comes to hot soil! Very few trees grow in hot soil, and the ones that do are not very friendly, think about desert type trees: thorny, leathery leaved, stunted, sparse canopy, you get the idea…
Not that I don’t admire desert trees mind you, I just like them in the desert…
Organic mulch really spurs on microbial goodness!
For the betterment of mankind, and treekind for that matter, I propose we petition the feds to start a mulch carpet bombing campaign across the globe.
Followed by a big aerial kelp spraying mission …
Enjoy your (hopefully smoke free) summer!