The Magic of Mulch

Danville Tree Removal

You’ve probably heard that mulch is important to your landscape. Have you ever thought about why that is? Apparently lots of people have thought about it, and so much that the phrase “the magic of mulch” has gained popular use. Don’t believe me? Google it.

Why did “the magic of mulch” become a thing, instead of “the utility of mulch” or ”the practicality of mulch”? Probably because what mulch does is pretty whimsical and impressive, really. But before we go into that, what do people use as mulch?

 

Basic Mulch Types

 

When you’re looking for mulch, you’ll find that you have three basic category types: organic, mineral, or synthetic. Organic mulch can be shredded hardwood, bark based, coconut coir, wood chips, corn husks, leaf litter, and other natural plant materials. Mineral mulch includes pea gravel, crushed brick, volcanic rocks, marble chips, and shale. Synthetic mulch can be shredded rubber, black plastic sheeting, and landscape fabric. Sometimes synthetic mulches are layered under organic or mineral mulches.

 

Mulch and the Microbiome

Mineral and synthetic mulches do something good for the miniscule life in your soil: they keep it cool and moist. But organic mulches offer more than that: they contribute new nutrients and living microbes to the rich and bustling microscopic life in the soil. Within soil there are fungus, bacteria, nematodes, algae, earthworms, ants, centipedes, millipedes, beetles, snails, and slugs, all sharing a balanced ecosystem. Organic mulch supports and contributes to that. If your soil were not vibrant with life, your trees, shrubs, and grass wouldn’t be either.

 

Mulch and Water

All types of mulch reduce evaporation of water from the soil. Water is crucial to your healthy garden and trees. Not only do the plants themselves need water, but so do soil-dwelling microbes and tiny animals like ants and worms. This water retention becomes especially important during hot or dry spells or in hot or dry climates. There is no danger that using mulch will keep your soil too wet, mulch brings water management benefits and no drawbacks.

 

Mulch and temperature

Part of the magic of mulch is that it keeps soil and roots warmer in cold weather and cooler in hot weather. It has an insulating property that brings the soil below it closer to middle ground temperatures by reflecting away heat and retaining the warmer ground temperatures when cold hits. Almost all areas experience either hot summers or cold winters, if not both. This makes mulch’s insulatory magic useful everywhere.

 

Mulch and Your Trees

Mulching your trees is pretty easy, and yields great benefit for the tree. What you don’t want is to under-mulch or over-mulch. No sparse see-through layers and no grand mulch volcanoes with your tree trunk erupting out.

Keys to mulching your tree well:

  • Remove grass and weeds within the “drip line”, area under the thickest parts of the tree canopy
  • If there’s old mulch, rake it to make sure it’s not compacted
  • Add about 3 inches depth of fresh mulch covering the “drip line”
  • Make sure the flare of the trunk (where it widens above meeting the ground) is fully above the mulch-line. No mulch should be against the trunk or within the first few inches.

If you have questions or need suggestions about mulch, contact Sexy Trees.

 

Are You Harming Your Soil Ecosystem?

Danville Tree Pruning

The trees on your property are dependent on your soil to be a healthy, safe place for them to grow or just stay alive. If your soil suffers, the trees suffer. If your soil thrives, the trees thrive. You need to be sure you aren’t harming your soil, which would threaten your trees.

However, to do that, you need to know about some of the most common practices which lead to soil damage.

Using Biocides

One of the most common ways people harm soil is by using biocides, which destroy life inside the soil. Healthy soil is full of microorganisms that promote tree growth and nutrition. Unfortunately, when plants are sprayed with pesticides to kill insects, they also end up being absorbed by the soil, which becomes damaged as a consequence. Biocides include everything from pesticides, weed killers, and fungicides, etc.

Moreover, even if the biocides don’t have an immediate measurable effect on your trees or soil, the can remain for decades and damage life in the longer run as they build up.

Removing Vegetation

Another common practice that leads to the damage of soil is through the removal of vegetation. While some people remove ground covering plants to create some landscaping goals, you also need to understand that complete removal leads to the soil being exposed. It also loses the connectivity created by root systems. This, as a result, makes it vulnerable to forces of erosion like wind and rain.

When the soil is exposed to these threats, healthy topsoil is lost, which is a primary layer for plants to grow because it has the most organic matter. Moreover, when the soil is bare, it receives more sunlight, and this causes moisture to evaporate. Finally, it becomes compacted as it dries, which make it harder for the soil to absorb rain.

If you don’t want to destroy the soil, you need to understand the soil’s needs. You need to know the soil needs to be covered, and plants provide this shelter. 

Allowing Soil to Dry Out

When soil is allowed to dry, the rich environment or microorganism that call it home suffer. Organic matter thrives in soil, from living fungi, to earthworms and healthy bacteria, and they all need water to survive.

Remember that your trees can’t make these decisions for you, but it matter to them when you make choices soil management. Swear off biocides, grow ground covering plants, and keep your soil from drying, and your trees will thank you. Silently, by living a long healthy life. 

Apple Trees in the Bay Area: Good or Bad Idea?

Tree Service Concord

If you already have apples trees in the SF Bay Area, then you already know: Apple trees are great here. Not effortless, but not hard.

 

Which Apple Trees are Good in the Bay Area?

Apple varieties that are “Low Chill” can be found at most Bay Area nurseries, and these are the ones you want. Among these are ‘Baldwin,’ ‘Braeburn,’ ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin,’ ‘Fuji,’ ‘Gala,’ ‘Golden Delicious,’ ‘Red Gravenstein,’ ‘Spitzenburg,’ ‘White Pearmain’ and ‘Yellow Bellflower.’

Of course your property may already have an apple tree or many of them. To find out what kind of tree you have, whether it’s in good health, and what its needs are, you can set an appointment with Sexy Trees to come out, examine it, and schedule any maintenance it needs.

 

What Kind of Care Do They Need?

If you have a newly planted apple tree, now is the time to have it pruned.  As your tree grows, prune for the four “D’s”: Dead, Diseased, Damaged or Disoriented Branches. Fruit trees, including apples, benefit from pruning in winter and summer.

Your tree also needs sunlight to fruit, not in general, but specifically: each branch with perform in alignment with how much sunlight it receives. Apple trees don’t do well in shade, and pruning should reflect that, being mostly at the top of the tree so that maximum surface area gets strong light exposure.

Top-dress your apple trees with compost each fall. Also, lay down mulch about 3 inches deep and  about 4 inches from the trunk, which keeps back weeds and retains moisture.

Unless they’re self-fertile, apple trees need pollination to produce fruit. Neighboring or nearby apple trees are needed for pollination to bear fruit, after honeybees and other insects pollinate the trees. Once fertilized, their flowering can be followed by good fruit set.

 

For help with your apple trees or any tree on your property, contact Sexy Trees today to get top quality services from a Diamond-Certified professional arborist.

What Should You Ask a Tree Care Specialist?

Berkeley Tree Service

 

Many of us either ignore our trees, do some self-tree care, or simply ask the gardener to do the tree service. Is this best way? Usually these are not the right approaches to ensuring your trees thrive. The following are some key things to ask you Tree Care Specialist:

  • Please give me your experience level

When speaking to tree care specialist, their experience level is critical. They may have seen many situations and been around various tree scenarios. Among their experiences should be becoming a certified arborist. Certified Arborists go through extensive testing to ensure they are familiar with the nuances of caring for trees. Sometimes the difference between a healthy tree and a sick one could be hard to identify differences in how it was pruned or cared for.

  • What things should I do regularly to care for my tree?

Whether it’s watering, pruning, or adding supplements, caring for a tree is very individualized. Each tree will be getting a set of nutrients from the soil, but it does have other needs. An oak tree will have different needs than a peach tree, and those will also vary according to terrain and climate. Each has to be cared for appropriately to ensure maximum health. Get specific recommendations about level of watering, sunlight, etc. A certified arborist has this knowledge to evaluate the tree and make quality recommendations.

  • What is your approach to pruning a tree and why?

As you are speaking with a tree care specialist, some will recommend some pruning or even tree removal. Always ask the essential question of “why?”. If they give you a very generic answer, it’s important to follow up and ask again for the basis of their recommendation. Hacking a tree shorter or removing it without a true need could permanently damage this living being.

Sexy Trees has a certified arborist with years of experience. We do offer tree evaluations. If you have questions about planting trees, feel free to reach out at Sexytrees.com.

Which Tree Types Have Non-Invasive Roots?

Concord Tree Pruning

Trees can be a beautiful feature of your garden, offering ornamentation, structure to your yard, and shelter for birds or animals. However, many homeowners avoid planting trees in their yard because the roots can invade plumbing pipes  or home foundations causing costly issues. One solution to this issue is choosing tree varieties with less invasive root systems. A qualified arborist can help you choose the right trees for your garden structure and varieties that won’t invade your pipes.

Ornamental Trees

Ornamental trees are a great solution for yards where you want the decorativeness of a beautiful tree without the risk of invasive roots. Ornamental trees grow to a manageable height and are designed to fit into smaller spaces and be easy to maintain. Many ornamental trees can even be grow in planters so that their roots have no chance of getting out of hand.

Popular ornamental tree varieties in California include –

 

  • Japanese Maple
  • Crape Myrtle
  • Eastern Redbud
  • Cornus Mas
  • Serviceberry
  • Kousa Dogwood
  • Japanese Tree Lilac
  • Dwarf Korean Lilac
  • Star Magnolia
  • Crabapples: Red Jewel, Royal Raindrops, Prairiefire

 

 

Fruit Trees

Fruit trees not only look beautiful, they can also provide a source of fruit for your family to enjoy when the right season comes around. Some fruit trees, like figs, can have voracious root systems that can quickly grow out of control. A greater variety of fruit trees can be made suitable for smaller gardens when pruned regularly and given routine care from a skilled arborist. If the tree is not allowed to grow too large the root system will not extend as far either. If in doubt, choose a beautiful decorative fruit tree variety that is known not to have invasive root systems.

The following fruit trees can be both ornamental for your garden and productive when it comes to providing fruit.

 

  • Citrus
  • Adams crabapple
  • Cornelian cherry dogwood
  • Pawpaw
  • Dwarf Apple Tree
  • Dwarf Cherry Tree
  • Dwarf Pear Tree
  • Dwarf Apricot Tree
  • Dwarf Orange Tree
  • Dwarf Plum Tree

 

Shade Trees

Want the protection and coolness of shade from your tree without the extensive and invasive root system? There are tree varieties that can provide you with thick foliage and fuller shade while still having smaller root systems. These trees can be a stunning focal point of your landscape without taking up too much space, or overwhelming your garden with their root systems. Some with colored leaves and some with flowers, these shade trees can liven up small gardens while maintaining small root systems.

Here are some shade tree varieties with less invasive roots –

 

  • Amur maple
  • Chinese pistache
  • Southern sugar maple
  • Red tip photinia
  • American hornbeam
  • Trident maple

 

Shrubs

Shrubs can provide good coverage, privacy and protection for your garden. While some shrubs may look small, their root systems can grow quickly, so it’s important to choose the right variety for your garden. Shrubs create the perfect addition for smaller gardens where low lying yet full plants are preferred.

Some of the most popular shrubs with non-invasive roots include –

 

  • Hollywood juniper
  • Fraser photinia
  • Glossy abellia
  • Hydrangeas
  • Viburnums
  • Boxwoods
  • Gardenia
  • Barberries
  • Camellias
  • Hollies

 

To keep your plumbing and home foundations safe, choose trees and shrubs with non-invasive root systems, and receive the professional advice of your arborist before planting.