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2 weeks ago

Do trees have to have mulch under them? Gardening Q&A with George Weigel - PennLive.com

Q: My church has planted 76 trees over the past7 years. Now we have more than 200 trees on 7 acres of land.

After an initial mulching by the landscaper, we have been applying mulch ourselves.For aesthetic reasons, we plan to continue mulching the trees near the church building, but we would like to stop mulching the rest of the trees. How many years should we keep applying mulch before the trees can survive without the mulch?

A: That's some good stewardship in re-treeing land that so often gets left in gas-, time- and resource-sucking oceans of lawn.

Your game plan sounds like a good one, and after 7 years to establish, now should be fine to cut back on mulching.

Mulch does a good job of holding down weeds, retaining soil moisture and making an area "look neat" to most eyes, so it's generally worth the effort around the most visible areas.

However, supplemental mulch isn't necessary for tree survival or even good tree health. Once trees are established, they're usually fine on their own. They even make their own mulch.

That's one of the beauties of trees. They're good at sustaining themselves by mining moisture and nutrients out of the soil to grow leaves and branches, then dropping the leaves, twigs, etc. to create a rough mulch.

As worms, weather, insects and soil microbes go to work on the fallen tree parts, it eventually breaks into compost and soil that in turn feeds the roots to keep the cycle going.

The main thing I'd watch for when you stop mulching trees is for the possibility of weeds and invasive plants to elbow their way in. That's more likely to happen early on before the trees mature.

Once invaders like poison ivy, mile-a-minute weed and Japanese honeysuckle get a leg up, they can take over an area pretty quickly. A good strategy is to do a periodic patrol to yank any brewing weed problem before it gets going.

Eventually, the combination of shade from a thickening tree canopy and increased self-mulching from the trees will make weeds less of a threat.

I tell doubters to look to forests for reassurance; nobody mulched them and those trees are growing just fine...

5 months ago

Friendsville receives $500000 grant for home repairs - Maryville Daily Times

About a dozen homeowners in Friendsville will be able to complete some much-needed home repairs with the help of a $500,000 HOME grant from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency.

The HOME grant program focuses on low-income families and individuals, and is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. THDA administers the program in the state of Tennessee.

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8 months ago

Outdoor gardening season's upon us. Here's what you need to do - Alaska Dispatch News

Some of the birch trees on our property in West Anchorage are showing leaves the size of squirrels ears. By the time you read this, I suspect yours will as well. Yippee! Lilacs, cotoneaster and mountain ash are all leafing out.

Do not be misled by the appearance of leaves, however. They are important, but only because they indicate an extremely slim chance of any killing frosts until fall. This is based on my theory that Mother Nature would not kill off her own by freezing them unexpectedly.Leaves on birch trees do not mean you can plant everything outdoors today. The soil is still cool and, frankly, while it may not freeze anymore until October, the nights (and some of our days) will