Mulch a valuable landscaping ingredient

Maintain 2 to 4 inches in planted beds for water savings and other benefits

Staff report
The basics of mulching

Since landscape irrigation increases water use by 35 to 75 percent during the summer irrigation season, Texas A&M AgriLife recommends landscape water conservation practices be adapted to reduce water use, save money, and still maintain a beautiful landscape. Water conservation is the easiest and least expensive method to make water resources sustainable for future use.

Mulch is like icing on a cake – it looks good and keeps the soil moist. Maintain a 2-to-4-inch mulch layer in all planted areas and around trees.

• Mulch prevents loss of water from the soil due to evaporation

• Mulch prevents erosion

• Mulch prevents crusting of the soil surface, thus improving the infiltration rate and movement of water into the soil

• Mulch reduces the growth of weeds, when the mulch material itself is weed-free and applied deeply enough to prevent weed seed germination or to smother existing weeds. Weeds are much easier to pull from mulch that from soil.

• Mulch keeps the soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

• Mulch prevents soil splashing, which prevents plant injury and keeps soil-borne disease from splashing up onto plants.

• Mulch improves soil structure. As mulch decomposes, the material becomes part of the soil.

• Mulch decomposes into plant essential nutrients.

• Mulch protects tree trunks and shrubs from damage by lawn equipment.

• Mulch helps prevent soil compaction.

• Mulch will add to the beauty of the landscape by providing a cover of uniform color and texture

• Mulched plants grow more roots than plants without mulch.

For further information, contact Mark Arnold, County Extension Agent-Agriculture/Natural Resources, 701 South I-35 E Service Road #3, Waxahachie, or call 972-825-5175 or email: wmarnold@ag.tamu.edu .