Fruit Tree Mulch?

Randy31513(Georgia 8b)March 14, 2012

What is everybody's thought on mulching around fruit trees? With the continuing drought in the South, mulching is getting more attention.

I keep the pine straw/oak leaf mulch pulled back from the trunk but it just seems like it is a perfect place for bad things to live.

Should I be worried about using oak leaves around peach trees as mulch?

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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I use wood chip mulch and it does an awesome job of holding water and helping the trees through dry spells. Things can live in the mulch; one good way to take care of that issue is to rake around the mulch in midwinter, exposing any eggs and the like to the cold and the birds. I usually just put more mulch on top in the spring and call it at that.

Scott

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 3:29PM
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Randy31513(Georgia 8b)

Thanks Scott for the information. Hard to get wood chips down here because everything goes to the paper mill. There is a Cyprus mill around somewhere, I can check with them. I like your idea of flipping it during the winter.

I have plenty of pine straw and oak leaves but it does get moldy.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 4:15PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

mulch is mulch.. really doesnt matter what it is..

it cools the soil .. retains moisture .. etc ... just tempers all the variables ...

the longer it lasts.. the better it is in my book .. leaves tend to disappear in less than a season ... so i tend toward wood ...

whatever you use.. hold it back from the trunk.. as bark is supposed to be in the air.. not held in a damp, dark soil-like place ...

a tree is a tree.. i cant really imagine a fruit tree needs anything special .... but i may be corrected on that ...

ken

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 5:21PM
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econ0003(10a CA / 8b CA)

I use cedar wood chips. It smells good and it naturally repels some insects.

Other than retaining water and regulating the soil temperature the wood chips have been breaking down into a dark humus over time. It has converted my hard poor draining soil into a well drained soil with a softer aerated structure.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 7:05PM
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melikeeatplants

Randy you don't have tree trimmers around your neighborhood? They'll usually dump their trucks on your driveway if their job is in the area. With spring coming you'll get a good mix of green/brown mulch to spread. Check Craiglist or call your local tree trimmers.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 7:20PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Wood chip mulch. I don't care what it is...pine, hardwood, whatever...as long as its free or close to free :) I use loads of it. It breaks down fast so be ready to reapply probably every other year.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 9:24PM
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rasputinj

I like to lay down a layer of leaves and then I lay down wood mulch over it. I can see a big difference in my soil and the number of worms . With citrus I keep it away from the trunk. I use more mulch with Avocados.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 11:47PM
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alan haigh

Mulch is all beneficial but not all the same. If a mulch repels water it cannot retain it which is something that rotting wood chips do quite well. However, if there is drought the resevoir will deplete quickly and then you might be better off without woodchips if you are relying on short thunderstorms to get some water to the trees. If you have a thick layer of dry wood chips and the trees are stressed it would be a good idea to rake them away before a predicted thunderstorm.

Woodchips do come out of winter with a lot more stored water than any mulch I can think of.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 6:39AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Randy,

I echo the wood chip mulch. I have turned snow white sugar sand to black rich soil with a couple hundred tree trimming truck loads. Another couple of sources you can try to get chips...

Call your electric company. They either do the trimming themselves or lease the work out to a tree company but in either they will put you on the list for chips. That is how I get mine. Those trims are best as it is mostly the smaller limbs and branches as opposed to tree companies that take down entire trees many of which are diseased. The landfill here charges the tree companies $100 a load to dump the ground tree limbs so you are doing them a favor taking them.

Here you can also pick up free both fine ground mulch and coarse mulch from the landfill.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 7:49AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

If a mulch repels water it cannot retain it which is something that rotting wood chips do quite well.

===>>> one of the worst things you can use as a mulch.. is grass clipping.. straight up .. as they dry.. and thicken.. they become the impervious mat .. and harvested refers to ...

it becomes.. almost.. the coir fibrous water proof mat out the backdoor ...

turn grass into compost before use.

ken

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 10:05AM
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Randy31513(Georgia 8b)

I ended up using pine straw(Pine Needles to some) from my pine trees but I am going to watch for the tree trimming truck that works the power lines.

95% of the trees down here are pine.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

Randy

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 5:14PM
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alan haigh

The trick with grass is to let it dry out in smallish quantities before using it as mulch. If you do this it is an extremely invigorating mulch with very high N and lots of calcium. I'd only use it for young trees I'm trying to rapidly size up.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 7:23PM
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Edymnion(7a)

I use the mulched rubber tree rings from Walmart for my trees. Couple feet in diameter, with a hole for the trunk and a slice down one side for you to put it down with. Rain and air pass right through it, but it totally shades the ground around the trunk.

I use 'em on my fruit trees, under my blueberries, basically anywhere I have a large plant that I don't want to have to worry about weeding under.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 3:18PM
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WildfireMike

Randy from the way you talk I'm guessing you are in the s/e U.S. No way no how would I ever use wood chips. Think termites. I used to lay cardboard or newspaper down and within months I'd have termites in it. You will not have termites in pine straw.
I must add that I am a wildland firefighter. Look up Firewise. Do not put any materials near the house that will burn or at least keep a buffer of several feet right at the house.
Mike A

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 3:52PM
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Randy31513(Georgia 8b)

Mike you are right about that.

Randy

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 4:23PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Mike,

Mulch around plants is generally moist....I don't see how moist mulch is much of a fire risk.

Far as the termites they are welcome to feast on the mulch as they break it down faster, though I have yet to see a single termite in it and I have 100's of truckloads applied. Now lay a board on the ground and it will be termite infested in weeks. Most people where termites are a problem have had termidor applied and the chance of sub termites getting in the house are zero.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 4:58PM
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alan haigh

Termites don't bother healthy trees IME. Only straw and hay can be a fire hazard IMO.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 5:32PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Maybe it depends on what part of the country your from, but around here it's common for people to mulch their flower beds next to their house with wood chips.

I've used wood chips around fruit trees extensively and not seen any unusual problems with termites.

Anything will burn (last summer I accidentally caught an old pile of cow manure on fire) but wood chips tend to hold moisture and are less flammable than a lot of other mulch choices, or even dead grass.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 9:27PM
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kokopelli5a

Its important not to over think this: Get whatever happens to be cheap and readily available in your area. Plop it down around your trees. It makes life easier. Scott's advise to rake the stuff in winter to freeze out the bug eggs makes sense, as does the advice to keep it away from trunks. Obviously very light materials are prone to blow away.

If you find yourself buying a lot of stuff in bags you are going about it the wrong way.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 9:17PM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

Randy your best location for composted mulch is at Douglas Georgia its on left going into city on highway 32 you be traveling from Alma to Douglas. They has your mulch wood from city clean up composted carry a big Truck I picked up several 18 wheeler loads there. You can't see wind rows from 32 but only 500 feet from highway 32. I live in Tattnall county across the Altamaha River from you. I'll be goig there to get trailer load soon like 2 weeks. I also haul mulch from Hinnsville Ga. its all free and composted by cities.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 9:37PM
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Randy31513(Georgia 8b)

Next time I go over there I will take my truck.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 10:45PM
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mootube(UK 9 - 8b)

Well here's an eye-opening warning about rubber mulch, coming from a person I hold immense respect for in botanical matters. Also, this is absolutely consistent with reports I've read about the American fertilizer industry to name another. I think we should at least bear this in mind and educate whenever possible. Thanks again to Paghat.

Here is a link that might be useful: about rubber mulch

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 11:29PM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

This also close by on 196 out of Glennville for pine bark and Cypress mulch your Truck will haul it in bulk it will have lower cost not bagged. Been so long that I purchase by load price changed.

Gin trash is fertile mulch all other are just organic matter Gins have different ways of using there gin trash some spread on cotton land. I like Gin trash tiller-ed in soil to me not good top mulch.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cypress & pine bark all forums

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 8:28AM
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wasabi_(Z6a WesternNC)

well said, kokopelli5a

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 1:00PM
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john_in_sc

LOL.. That blog about rubber mulch was pretty interesting... Ironically, I am dealing with low Zn and Ni soils (well... Deficient in everything... not just Zn and Ni...)

After reading that article - it might be worthwhile to buy a bag of that rubber mulch stuff that has a little bit of the residual belt steel in it... Iron supplement as well... Maybe throw a cup full here and there to see what happens... Otherwise - I really don't like the stuff... so I won't use it as a primary mulch... I have a dump truck of cheap Single ground mulch coming this week...

Thanks

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 10:00PM
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mootube(UK 9 - 8b)

Rubber fits in well with the monochromatic way I decorate my place, I would have used it at the first opportunity before I read that. As it is, I'll be putting my low end wood chipper to use on all the Leylandii I cut down and mulching with that fairly soon. Better check that nothing poisonous will leach out first or might as well just get the rubber.
If there was a cheap source of black gravel here I'd go for that. I will check but I doubt it's cheap enough. Whatever I do use, I have weed suppressing fabric ready. This will be the first proper mulching I've done too, I'd be interested if anyone had other suggestions for a monochrome mulch, white, grey or black is fine.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 1:41AM
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mootube(UK 9 - 8b)

I think I've worked out a great mulch that should be as black as you could want too, assuming you want black that is. I read several articles online that simply pointed out that compost was the best mulch. Wood chip seems to evoke either "use it, it's great" or "don't use it" for various reasons, it seems bark is generally thought of as a good choice from what I've read and then there's charcoal. Paghat has an article on how contrary to popular belief, charcoal has no real benefit within the soil, it's also an interesting read as usual. Looking at charcoal as a mulching ingredient is another thing, looks like it could be very beneficial used this way. I did read that it was alkaline though which warrants a mention and a bit more research just in case. Also using barbecue charcoal that isn't obviously wood is a bad idea, you wouldn't want the binding agents and raw materials involved getting to your plants.

Looks like the mulch I'll use will consist of bark, coarse black peat and charcoal. Haven't decided if I'll convert wood chip to ccoal myself yet but it could be a worthwhile project too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Charcoal as mulch

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 3:29AM
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blackrag(6A East PA)

I have a very large mound of chips from fall tree cutting on my property. Problem might be is that there would be chips included from some Black Walnuts. Would it be wise to avoid this as mulch?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 8:30PM
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mootube(UK 9 - 8b)

From Wikipedia - "The roots, nut husks, and leaves secrete a substance into the soil called juglone that is a respiratory inhibitor to some plants. A number of other plants (most notably white birch) are also poisoned by juglone, and should not be planted in close proximity to a black walnut. The plant can cause contact dermatitis in humans. [17] Horses are susceptible to laminitis from exposure to black walnut wood in bedding.[18]"

I think you'd be asking for trouble there though it doesn't say the wood itself is poisonous. Burn the pile before you're tempted to use it. :)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 10:34PM
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mootube(UK 9 - 8b)

My mistake, the wood causes laminitis in horses too as it says.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 10:42PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"I have a very large mound of chips from fall tree cutting on my property. Problem might be is that there would be chips included from some Black Walnuts. Would it be wise to avoid this as mulch?"

I've used wood mulch extensively (whatever the tree services bring me). Some trees I've mulched with almost pure black walnut mulch (you could see lots of black walnuts in the mulch). I've not noticed any difference in vigor of different wood mulches.

This is primarily with peach trees. Other species of trees and plants may be more sensitive to various wood mulches.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 10:58PM
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perma123

This is an interesting discussion. Where I live, leaves is what is most readily avaiblable. Maple leaves everywhere. I used them as mulch in the garden and it became slugs' paradise. I wonder if the same could happen to my fruit trees. Any danger of attracting to many slugs if leave-mulching an apple or pear tree?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2014 at 1:20PM
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