Do-it-yourselfScienceSoil

To be, er, mulch or not to mulch

That shouldn’t really be a question. Some popular counter arguments against mulching include. that the soil warms up more slowly and the mulch prevents water from evaporating. This would slow down the growth of the plants. On the other hand, you can also say that mulch ensures that soil moisture is preserved, which is important during heat waves, or in regions where there is already a warm climate anyway. This in turn is good for the fight against drought. But the benefits of mulch go beyond just moisture retention. That’s why we say use mulch? Just do it!

Soil temperature

The use of mulch ensures that the soil temperature remains more or less moderate. Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott recently proved this again with a small experiment in which she measured the temperature with a soil thermometer in mulched and non-mulched places in her garden and surroundings. That experiment showed the following things:

  • Mulched raised beds have the most consistent temperatures.
  • Unmulched soil mounds have extreme changes, reflecting air temperatures.
  • Bare soil in beds under sunny conditions has extreme changes that reflect air temperatures, but not as great as those in raised beds. They are the hottest during the day and the coldest at night.
  • Bare soil in beds under shady conditions are the coldest soils during the day and even colder at night.
  • Soil under live mulch (grass) and beds with varying depths of wood chips are cooler during the day than bare soil in sunny conditions, but warmer at night.
  • Bare soils in beds that were just mulched are much warmer than bare soils that are nowhere near mulched areas.
  • The soil temperature under grass or in beds at least partially mulched did not change overnight.

A study conducted by Dr Chalker-Schot in 2012 also showed that the temperature difference between mulched and unmulched soil can be as much as 10 ° C. As you can see in the graph below, the soil temperature of an unmulched soil peaked around 38 ° C, while the temperature of a mulched soil with wood chips peaked at around 28 ° C.

Protection for trees and shrubs

Probably one of the most underrated benefits of using mulch around trees is that it eliminates the need for trimming or mowing the lawn around your trees. You can easily damage young trees if you sit too much with your trimming line against the tree. The nutritional channels of a tree are located just below the bark. Mulch reduces the amount of weeds you need to weed, making it easy to weed around your trees before you start mowing the grass.

Source: The Garden Professors (source 1 source 2)

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