Experts: Mulch can protect trees

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2014


Some residents have begun preparing their gardens for the winter season, and the International Society of Arboriculture and local officials have offered suggestions on where to begin.

The “Farmer’s Almanac” predicts a harsh winter and Southeast tree experts believe this winter will be much colder than last year.

Alabama Cooperative Extension System regional agent Lucy Edwards said this area might not see the extremes that the ISA predicts, but she also suggests adding mulch to gardens.

“Since it’s been warm, if you want to clean out old mulch and add a new layer, it will hold in the moisture and insulate plants from the winter cold,” Edwards said. “By getting out old debris and leaves, any diseases or insect waste will benefit the plant next year.”

Edwards suggested adding 2 or 3 inches of fresh mulch to protect trees and plants.

Norma Goolsby, a local master gardener, began preparing her gardens on Monday by pruning some plants and putting down a new layer of pine mulch.

“I like pine straw,” Goolsby said. “I like the look and it’s readily available in the south.”

The ISA said winter droughts require watering as much as summer droughts, and occasional watering during the winter on young trees is recommended.

“The roots are not dormant, so we need to remember to water when it’s warmer and there is no chance of trees freezing,” Edwards said.

Winter is one of the best times to prune trees and it is easier to see the structure of trees without their leaves, according to the ISA.

“Now would also be the time to prune out any dead, diseased or damaged limbs, or anything in the shrubs,” Edwards said. “But it is not the time for severe pruning. Wait until late winter or early spring.”

The ISA also suggests preventing injury to trees by wrapping them in burlap, but Edwards said wrapping is not necessary for this area.

“If you do have fruit trees, you may consider wrapping them, especially Satsuma trees,” Edwards said.

Edwards also expressed the importance of removing leaves, fallen limbs and other litter from around pecan trees to avoid many insects and diseases that can harm them.

“You should pick up the leaves or limbs around pecan trees,” Edwards said. “We had a lot of fungal disease due to the cold and wet, early spring.”