There is no doubt that mulching your shrub beds and tree wells is important to the aesthetics of your Atlanta commercial property, but it is also important for the health of the trees and shrubs.
Mulch helps to control weeds and retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also keeps plant roots insulated so they stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. And as we have seen this year with all the rain we have received in Atlanta, a good mulch layer is very important in controlling erosion.
But what type of mulch is best? Is it purely a matter of personal preference or is there a clear winner? Let’s compare pinestraw mulch to wood mulch.
Pinestraw: an Atlanta favorite
Pinestraw has been used in the south for several decades as the mulch of choice; partially due to its availability and partially due to it’s advantages.
Due to the pine needles’ shape and size they tend to interlock and weave a mat that covers the ground. This pinestraw mat is very porous and allows more infiltration of water than any other mulch material. The interlocking qualities also help pinestraw stay in place and not get washed away as quickly as some of the smaller pieced bark mulch. This interlocking quality also helps to reduce water runoff and increases protection from erosion.
Pinestraw is a natural product that blends in well with the surrounding landscape due to its color and texture. One disadvantage of pinestraw is that it breaks down and loses its color quicker than other mulches, especially in a year like we have had this year with above average rainfall. Another upside is that when refreshing the pinestraw, removal of the old layer is not necessary due to its ability to decompose and return to the soil.
Wood mulch offers more options
While most pinestraw looks very similar, there is a wide variety of colors available when using wood mulch. This gives consumers an additional choice of how they impact their landscape. There are also several varieties: pine, hardwood, cypress, and cedar, to name a few. In addition to the different varieties and colors there are also size variations: shredded, chipped, double milled, large nuggets, mini-nuggets, etc.
Like pinestraw, wood mulches are a natural product and have been successfully used for many years. While the pieces of chipped up or shredded wood do not interlock and hold together like pinestraw, they still provide many of the same benefits. Wood mulch does not break down as quickly as pinestraw but it does fade and needs to be refreshed regularly.
Care needs to be taken so that excessive layers of wood mulch do not build up around plants. This can be detrimental to plant health and cause stress that can lead to decline and death. It is best to periodically remove the old layer(s) of wood mulch before installing the new. Many times this additional labor ends up being a deciding factor in which mulch is used.
While mulching shrub beds and tree wells are a recurring cost for property owners and managers, doing these things can immediately improve the appearance and health of your landscape.
It is common for pinestraw applications to occur twice a year even though many times three are needed. Consumers often purchase wood mulch based on the premise that only one application is needed per year. While the mulch may last a full year, the color usually does not. The yearly cost overall ends up being very similar in most cases.
So what is the best mulch for your commercial property in Atlanta? Obviously personal preference plays a role, but looking at all the facts and determining which option best suits the goals of your property and the image you want to project is the best way to determine which option is best for you.
This post was written by Eric Pence, Highgrove Partners’ client relations manager
Image credit: ThrasherDave