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 essential 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 pine straw 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 its advantages.
Due to the pine needles’ shape and size, they tend to interlock and weave a mat covering the ground. This pine straw mat is very porous and allows more infiltration of water than any other mulch material. The interlocking qualities also help pine straw stay in place and not get washed away quickly as some 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 pine straw is that it breaks down and loses its color quicker than other mulches, especially in a year like this year with above average rainfall. Another upside is that removing the old layer is unnecessary when refreshing the pine straw due to its ability to decompose and return to the soil.
Wood mulch offers more options.
While most pine straw 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. There are also size variations, including shredded, chipped, double milled, large nuggets, mini-nuggets, etc.
Like pine straw, wood mulches are a natural product and have been successfully used for many years. While chopped-up or shredded wood pieces do not interlock and hold together like pine straw, they still provide many of the same benefits. Wood mulch does not break down as quickly as pine straw, but it does fade and must 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 pine straw applications to occur twice a year, even though 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.
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