An Intro to Cedar...and pros and cons
Updated: Jun 28, 2021
Reasons to Mulch your garden areas:
What makes cedar mulch so beneficial for our gardens? What should we use it for, and maybe more importantly, when should we not use it? Let’s dig a little deeper and find out everything a gardener needs to know about cedar mulch and its potential uses.
Mulch can be made from any organic material which is layered over topsoil to benefit the health of the plants. Mulch is most commonly made from bark or wood chippings, but it can also be made of grass clippings or pine needles, among other things. Cedar mulch is made from the wood of cedar trees, which has either been chipped or shredded.
INTRO TO CEDAR MULCH: Cedar mulch can be used for various reasons, both functional and aesthetic. Most commonly, it is used for water retention, weed inhibition, soil insulation, improving the look of beds, and repelling insects. Whatever reason you are using cedar mulch for, it is applied in the same way.
Spread an even layer, generally around 3 inches thick, of cedar mulch to the top layer of your soil. Cedar chunks tend to be heavier and are therefore best used around the base of large shrubs and trees. Shredded cedar has a more delicate texture, and its lightweight quality makes it more suitable for use around bedding plants and flowers.
KEEP IN MIND: When mulching around the shrubs' stems or trunks of trees, you should leave a gap around the outside of the trunk so that the mulch doesn’t actually touch the tree. This is because wet mulch pressed up against the stem or trunk can cause the plant to rot; it also deprives the trunk of airflow, which can encourage disease and pests.
WATER RETENTION: Cedar mulch is effective at increasing a soil’s ability to retain moisture. It does this by minimizing moisture evaporation, as it provides a physical barrier between soil and air. It also helps to improve moisture retention by regulating the temperature of the soil, which further aids in preventing water from evaporating. And anybody in the Treasure Valley knows, the seasons and temperatures can change on a dime. Cedar is a wonderful insulator against heat and to a degree, unexpected cold snaps. Aren't those the absolute WORST?! You finally think we're well past "safe" and bam, one or a few plants freeze! Nuts!
2. It provides a layer of protection against insect pests: Cedar mulch naturally repels many of the insects that would become bothersome in your garden or around your flower beds. You don’t need to apply an insecticide or any other additive to gain this benefit because the wood does it naturally thanks to the natural oils and chemicals it contains, such as thujone. Mosquitos, mites, fleas and ants, moths, spiders, ticks and other bitey creepy crawlies are just a few this wonderful aroma keeps away! While this only lasts for roughly a season (4-5 months), a refreshing of the cedar will give you that protection year round (and is a LOT LESS EXPENSIVE than calling an exterminator to come out- plus the harmful chemicals)
One thing all gardeners have in common is that they loathe weeds! Cedar mulch helps to inhibit weed growth so you can spend less time weeding and more time enjoying your garden. The mulch prevents weeds from taking root in a few different ways. First, the mulch physically protects the soil so that fewer weed seeds will reach the surface of the soil. Second, the mulch acts as a light barrier, preventing sunlight from reaching the soil.
Without light, most weed seeds will be unable to germinate, and therefore will cease to become full-blown weeds. In some cases, stubborn weeds will still make an appearance, but these can be easily spotted against the background of cedar mulch and quickly pulled up.
4. It encourages a healthier soil by attracting more earthworms. When you use organic cedar mulch with your flowerbeds and gardens, then you will encourage more earthworms to occupy your soil. The same temperature and moisture benefit your plants receive with this product support their presence all year long. Excellent soil health requires their existence because they can provide structural support and nutrient cycling in every season. Even if the quality of your soil is inferior, you can add a layer of commercialized topsoil, and then a layer of cedar mulch on top of that, to encourage a fast improvement in the quality of your beds.
Emerald Ladder Designs suggests using a specific application for your organic mulch. When applying mulch around a plant, be sure to leave a doughnut hole around the trunk. Never pile mulch in a volcano next to it. Do not apply more than a two- to three-inch deep layer of mulch around a plant. Wider is better than thicker. But if you ever have a question on whether it's correct or not, we can always give you advice!
While yes, it's beautiful and classy and phenomenal in all ways...there's got to be some down sides right?
You betcha! We mentioned a few above. However, there's another thing you should watch for when using Cedar.
It can encourage the growth of fungi in your flowerbeds and gardens. When you manage your landscaping or plant a garden, then your flowers, shrubs, and trees prefer to have soil that has a lot of bacteria. These plants consume the natural elements as a nutrient, providing for germination and ongoing results throughout each season.
If you add cedar mulch as a way to preserve your planted areas, then you can see several years of improvement with this product in most climates. Then the fungi will start to establish dominance on your property, leading to a deterioration in overall production. If you live in a hot and humid geographic location, difficulties can be observed in as little as 24 months in some circumstances because you’re using organic materials for this process. Fungi of course, love dead things. Decomposition is a real thing.
The Bottom Line: If you’re not sure which mulch work maximize the health of your soil, then speak with us today to see what we would recommend. That way, you can discover the best possible solution to beautify your property.
We look forward to discussing all your options with you!