Hello fellow readers, One hundred columns ago, we began out garden chat. It’s far more than about digging in the dirt. Gardens relate to all that grows in this garden of life. So for column 101, it seems fitting to reflect on our very first topic; Proper Planting & Mulching.
Stop Volcano Mulch
What looks like volcanos around plants is not only ugly, it’s unhealthy and sadly so common that folks think it is proper planting etiquette. Mulch Volcanoes cause excess moisture and stress on plants resulting in root rot, insect, or disease.
Sometimes what appears to be Mulch Volcanoes are trees planted half as deep as they should be. I’ve seen some “professionals” plant this way; a conspiracy perhaps? The tree will live a few years, then likely suffer from root girdling, creating a need for a new tree providing repeat business. Or could it be laziness; half planted means less digging after all. If there are barriers such as a shale shelf or utilities and you can’t dig deep enough, then it’s not the right place to plant a tree. Instead, choose something shallow-rooted such as an ornamental grass, butterfly bush, or other perennial in that spot.
Root Girdling is like tight undergarments.
Root Girdling is like tight undergarments- all that ‘content’ must go somewhere! Roots begin to grow around the main stem and cut off the movement of water and nutrients. It sounds uncomfortable, and it is! Poor plants.
How to Plant
Give your tree, shrub, or perennial the right start by digging the hole 2-3 times the diameter but only as deep as the root ball. Supplement the soil with rich organic matter mixed in, firmly filling the hole to eliminate air pockets that may dry out roots. Most aren’t aware that fertilization at the time of planting can add to plant stress, so wait until after plants establish. Once planted, apply 2-3 inches of mulch, making sure to keep it clear of the tree trunk or stem of your plants.
Thank you for the joy of helping to beautify our surroundings, which often leads to sharing encouragement, life experiences, …and proper etiquette. Here’s to no more volcanoes!
Garden dilemmas? firstname.lastname@example.org
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