Why you should NOT consider “Skipping” your winter application of straw or mulch

As we move into the colder months of the year many of you have tuned out your landscape or your pocket books have been pulled in so many different directions you may question the importance of new mulch. Well, let me be your landscapes advocate.  Pine straw and mulch are not simply for aesthetics, sure they add tremendous value to your curb appeal, but they mean so much more.  Many of you have invested a great deal in your landscape; consider mulch and pine straw protection for that investment.

Mulch and pine straw protect the roots of your plants from excessive heat, as well as, excessive cold.  Have you ever wondered why some of your evergreen plants brown out in the winter?  One reason is evergreens are actually more susceptible to winter injury than deciduous trees and shrubs as they have the ability to lose moisture through their leaves in winter as well as in summer, and unless that moisture can be replaced, browning of the leaves and drying of the branches or of the whole plant may be the result.  Adding an extra blanket on their roots helps to prevent the loss of moisture that could cause browning.

Another added benefit of mulch is its ability to suppress weeds.  Weeds typically spread by way of seeds and sunlight is a much needed element is the seed germination process.  By adding mulch to your planting beds you not only prevent sunlight from reaching the soil, in a lot of cases you prevent the weed seeds from coming into contact with the soil in the first place.

Lastly, another extremely important benefit of mulch and pine straw is its erosion control capabilities.  During the last few months we have experienced a great deal of rain fall.  You may or may not have noticed that areas not covered in mulch were much more likely to show signs of erosion than those properly mulched.  How does mulch prevent erosion? The millions of shredded fibers in mulch interlock forming a blanket of mulch that holds the slope while intercepting water flow.  When rain falls on the site water is spread laterally thru the mulch as a result of the surface area and airspace.  The shredded material acts as millions of tiny dams forcing the water to slow down and spread out.  Mulch will also absorb water, trapping it, thus allowing it to percolate into the soil underneath.   Because mulch holds water effectively through adhesion and cohesion, it keeps the soil surface cool and moist longer, thus promoting favorable conditions for beneficial organisms to thrive and further develop the soil profile.  Over time, the soils will become more and more aggregated, increasing their ability to hold, percolate and exfiltrate water.

If you have not considered mulching this year, I hope that I have given you enough reason to reconsider.  Your plants are counting on you.


  1. Appreciate you sharing, great blog.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.

  2. Thanks for the great article..

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