Best mulch for new apple trees

jenn(SoCal 9/19)July 12, 2011

We planted 2 apple trees (our first) that we purchased at our local nursery. Both are on M111 rootstock and came from Dave Wilson's nursery. One is Anna, the other Dorsett Golden.

They're doing very well and have produced a few apples this year after thinning. They were mulched with some bark chips after planting but the whole area needs a thick mulch for summer. Soil is clay. This area is a work-in-progress, and the adjacent path will be filled with crushed rock after the central bed is mulched.

We're planning to buy some scoops of bark mulch on Friday to cover the entire center bed (between the path and fence). I like the type of mulch that has bark pieces + some fines, but I'm wondering that type is best. We'll reapply it each year as needed.

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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

That's what I use, Jenn. A bark mulch that will eventually decompose into compost, which is very helpful for your clay soil, as well as for my DG soil. I try to find bark mulch with smaller pieces so it breaks down well. I just try to keep it away from the trunk, so the trunk stays dry.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 3:18PM
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I used white crushed rock for a mulch on my new fruit trees, which I had read about in some books and online. It has several benefits, but I was most interested in trying to discourage voles, which have been a problem for me.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 7:34PM
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alan haigh

Bark is fine but arborist wood chips are free and better from a functional standpoint because bark repels water while woodchips function as a reservoir. Woodchips break down quicker which has up and down sides. The breaking down means it feeds the plants more quickly than bark.

Bark sometimes contain salts which can be terrible. Linda Chalker-Scott hates bark and writes about it in one of the articles in this collection. I've never had a problem with bark and some like its appearance. You can read her articles about various mulches.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 6:05AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I keep a large pile of "arborist" wood chips, which I add to every year on the upper end of the pile. From the lower end of the pile I am using the chips, which are from two to five years old and partially composted. They work really well and remain in place. Your mulch should be spread at LEAST to the drip line. Al

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 8:38AM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Thank you all for your replies. After reading the article harvestman posted, I'm curious where to find arborist wood chips in my area (SGV region of southern California). Would I call local arborists and ask where they take their chips?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 9:46AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Usually you will see them working in your area. The electric utility hires them keep trees from electric wires. You will need a place they can dump that is easy for a big truck to access. Al

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 9:56AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

City has free wood chips here. I use them and have had good success. The one thing I must do is use hardware cloth around all trees. Voles are a big problem here.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 10:08AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

The best wood chips are called "ramial hardwood" which is the chips of the smaller branches. Next best is general hardwood mulch. That is what I use; there is a free spot in my neighborhood where the tree guys know they can dump it and us neighbors know we can grab it. Like Al I like stuff a few years old already when I put it down. I tried to make my own ramial hardwood mulch but it was too much work (anyone want a chipper for cheap?). The bark and pine mulches are not as good nutrient wise.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 12:10PM
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alan haigh

A few years old may not give you good protection from weeds. Fresh is what you can get from an arborist but you'd have to take a whole truck load which is enough to do about 25 trees.

Also some wood chips are a mess with lots of strips that are ugly and make handling them tougher. It all depends on level of equipment maintenance.

I like fairly young wood chips but old enough to be darkened so they're more attractive to my eye. 6 months with some rain gets them there.

Landscape and masonry yards sell shredded wood by bulk. It doesn't work as well as the chips although they are often made from them. Shredding causes the wood to mat up which is helpful for stopping weeds with less product but water will run right around it. Stirring it solves this problem. They are lighter and easier to work with than chips.

All and all, for just 2 tress you might as well run with bark nuggets- but taste them for salt.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 3:02PM
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