Fight weeds, mower damage with mulch

Published 8:08 pm Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring is in the air, and it’s time to spread a fresh layer of mulch around the garden.
“Mulches will suppress weed growth. That’s probably the No. 1 reason we put it out here in the South,” Wayne Porter of Mississippi State Extension Service said during a video conference this week at the Warren County Extension office..
For that reason alone, mulching is beneficial, but spreading too much mulch or piling it up around the base of a tree in a mound can be harmful.
“You don’t want the mulch volcano,” Porter said.
Each type of mulch has its own advantages and disadvantages and a different application depth, Porter said.
Pine straw is quick is most readily available, but can be a fire hazard and turns the soil acidic over a period of years. Chunks of bark and wood are slow to decompose and do not blow away, but it can attract termites. Rocks never decompose, but can reflect heat onto plants.
“I usually say the cheapest one is the right one for you,” Porter said.
For homeowners or landscapers having trouble deciding between mulches, the extension service offers literature on each different type of mulch, Porter said.
Having a buffer area of mulch in the flower bed can also save plants from the unrelenting wrath of the lawnmower, and spreading it around tree trunks cuts back on scarring damage weed trimmers, Porter said.
Damaging bark might not seem like a big problem at first, but it can be highly detrimental to trees with small trucks or thin bark. Landscapers usually call the damage “Weed Eater disease.”
“I’m amazed at how many times I see this in landscaping,” Porter said.