Adding mulch around young trees and in landscaped areas is one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do for your plants. You may also get an edible surprise in the spring or fall. I found these Morels yesterday in Seattle in a landscape where I had applied some purchased mulch last winter.
While these Morels were growing in mulch purchased from a landscape supply place, I’ve also seen them growing in “Arborist chips” which are chipped up branches and limbs from tree removal companies. These wood chips are my favorite as they have many benefits: they moderate soil temperatures, hold moisture, help prevent weeds, and they slowly break down and release nutrients- best of all they can be free. Many large tree removal companies maintain a list of people interested in receiving a load of wood chips, just call and get on their list.
These wood chips are better than “beauty” bark in that they break down quicker (thus building soil and adding nutrients) and are not overly acidic or hydrophobic as Douglas Fir (the most commonly used species) bark can be. I’ve seen beautiful black soil filled with worms at the bottom of a woodchip pile that was a few years old.
There was a rumor spreading several years ago that putting wood chips on soil “stole” nitrogen from the underlying soil. This is untrue. Only if you mix the wood chips into the soil can this occur.
So get out there and mulch your perennial garden beds and around your trees, who knows what might spring up!