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|TrustDale Tip of the Day: *Characteristics of a Good Mulch|
The ideal mulch is:
- Readily available.
- Easy to apply and remove.
- Stays in place.
- Supplies organic matter to the soil.
- Is free of noxious weeds, insects, and diseases.
It also performs the three functions described earlier: suppresses weeds, conserves soil water, and moderates soil temperatures.
Does such a supermulch exist? Not really. Consider:
- Black plastic, which warms the soil in spring, also heats the soil in summer, possibly to levels that are lethal to plants.
- Straw, shredded leaves, pine needles, and wood chips are effective insulating blankets in winter, but they slow soil warming if left on in the spring.
- Although black plastic effectively prevents the evaporation of water from the soil, it also blocks the entrance of water into the soil.
- Mineral or synthetic mulches do not contribute beneficial organic matter to the soil, but some organic mulches may contribute weed seeds and diseases to a site.