Caring for your Trees this Summer

Caring for your trees during the summer months is just as important as during any other season. This article will look at a few tips and techniques you can use to take care of your trees during the long, hot summer!

Mulching

The best time for mulching trees would be spring time, but you will also be able to successfully mulch your trees in summer and still reap many of the benefits. Mulch keeps your soil temperatures cool by helping to conserve the moisture in the soil, and suppresses the growth of weeds. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t mulch against the trunk of the tree as this can cause the trunk to rot over time. Rather make a donut shaped mulch layer around your trees.

Irrigation

South African summers can get quite hot, so it may be necessary for you to water your trees regularly, especially if the tree is young or newly planted. Trees need, on average, one inch of water per week, and it is much more effective to water a tree less frequently, but you need to make sure that the water reaches deeper into the ground to reach the deep roots of the trees.

Fertilizer

Just like humans, trees need nutrients to support leaf and shoot growth, and to fend off diseases and pests. Trees growing in urban areas or high stress areas will need more fertilizer than trees growing in natural areas

Pruning

Pruning trees is as much an art as it is a science – this is why you should try to leave it up to the professionals. You should try to limit your pruning to the dormant season, but sometimes it is necessary to prune your trees in summer. You should remove any branches or leaves that are diseased, damaged or dead. Flowering trees should only be pruned in the early summer, after they finish blooming.

Tree Pest Inspections

You should always keep an eye on your trees, by examining them frequently throughout the summer to check for pests and diseases. Most insects are not harmful to trees but some can be devastating to the health of a tree. Inspecting your trees regularly will ensure that you catch any potential infestations early, and will prevent the loss of precious, oxygen producing trees.

Storm Damage

Summer rain storms can cause damage to trees and property, and it is important to assess the health and strength of your trees after every heavy storm. You may need to consult a tree care specialist to assess the safety of large trees. You could also brace and/or secure weak limbs with cables, if it is not necessary to completely remove the limb.

To Burn or Not To Burn

Spring time has arrived in sunny South Africa and this means it’s time to braai! South Africans love to enjoy the beautiful weather and environment we are blessed with by spending time outside with friends and family around the fire.

Contrary to what you might think, not all wood should be used in a fireplace or a braai. There are some risk factors to consider when choosing your fire wood to ensure that you, your friends and your family stay safe and healthy while enjoying the great outdoors.

 

Never use the following:

 

  • Green Wood

When a tree is cut down, the wood needs to be left out to dry, or season, for an extended period of time (more than 9 months is best). A newly felled tree will still have tree sap and water stored within its branches.

Freshly cut fire wood is very difficult to set alight, it produces less heat and a lot more smoke. The wood will also bubble and pop as it burns away the moisture in the wood.

Chimney fires may be caused by burning the wet wood of certain species of tree. The smoke could contain a high concentration of creosote, which is a flammable substance that collects in chimneys as the smoke escapes. Evergreen trees give off more creosotes than most.

Green Wood will have firmly attached bark that is still sticky with sap. Seasoned wood will weigh less and will make a cracking sound if you hit it with another piece of wood.

 

  • Non-local Wood

If you live or are visiting an area which is affected by an invasive species, you should take care not to move the wood outside of this area.

The spread of invasive insects and diseases is mainly caused by firewood that travels outside of the affected area. New outbreaks almost always start in and around camp sites or public braai areas where firewood is often used.

 

  • Soft Wood

Soft wood like Pine, Fir or Cypress are soft woods that burn fast, does not form many coals and causes a lot of smoke and soot. If you are using a fireplace or chimney, you may want to avoid wood that is prone to producing soot.

You can use seasoned soft wood for outdoor fires, but cooking using soft wood may become difficult as the wood does not form many coals.

 

 

  • Driftwood

Salt Water Drift wood becomes saturated with salt, and burning this can release harmful chemicals into the air. Salt contains Chlorine which can burn away mucus membranes in a condensed gaseous form. The smoke from driftwood can also be corrosive that can damage your fireplace or braai.

 

  • Poisonous Wood

Any wood that has the word ‘poison’ in its name should never be burned as it will release an irritant called Urushiol into the smoke. This will cause major respiratory problems and can be life threatening in some cases.

 

  • Oleander or Ceylon Rose (Selonsroos)

Oleander is an invasive species in the South African eco-system, so you may think it will help our eco system if you burn these plants, but every part of the Oleander shrub or tree is extremely poisonous. The sap also irritates the skin. Burning any part of this tree will release carcinogens into the air which is harmful to breathe in. The wood should never be placed near food either.

 

  • Treated, painted or pressure treated wood

Even though Brands Tree Felling does not deal with or produce this type of wood, we think it is important to mention.

Burning wood that has been treated, painted or pressure treated will release harmful chemicals into the air. This can lead to major health problems for the people around your fire, and for people eating the food prepared on this fire.

Pressure Treated Wood can be identified by its greenish or reddish hue and the perforations on the surface.

Plywood is also not suitable for burning as burning the glue used in the manufacturing process releases harmful chemicals into the air.

Milled Lumber may be treated with polyethylene glycol to make it dry faster.

 

  • Big Pieces of Wood

If the firewood is too big to fit into your fireplace or braai, it is not suitable. Large pieces of wood can fall out and set alight the surrounding areas.

 

  • Endangered Species

Needless to say, burning wood from an endangered species would be a tragedy.

For the comprehensive list of the protect tree species.

The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB) is threatening South African Trees

The polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB), also known as Euwallacea Fornicatus are able to cause a great deal of damage to our environment, and it has recently been discovered in South Africa.

These beetles are approximately 2mm long and is native to South East Asia, which means that the beetle has no natural predator in South Africa and can spread like wildfire.

To make matters worse, this beetle has a symbiotic relationship with certain types of fungi, like Fusarium Euwallacea. The fungus is the beetles’ main source of food in addition to it being the main cause associated with the wilting of trees. The beetle is believed to use the other types of fungi to help with colonisation of infected trees.

This beetle along with the associated fungi, has caused tremendous damage to trees across the US (specifically California) and regions of the Middle East. Considering the devastation caused by this beetle in Sandton and in Knysna (currently infesting over 200 indigenous tree species from 28 different plant families) this beetle could cause one of South Africa’s largest ecological tragedies.

 

How does the beetle infest the tree?

The beetle itself, does not kill the tree, but the fungus accompanying the beetle does. The fungus infects the tree’s vascular system which then affects and/or stops the flow of water and nutrients within the tree.

 

How to Identify the Shot Hole Borer

Unfortunately, the beetles are the size of sesame seeds and can be hard to spot, however, you can identify an infected tree by looking for the following signs:

  • Wilting or missing leaves
  • Dead or dying Branches
  • Entry or Exit holes on the bark (the size of a pen tip) – these holes may have staining around them
  • Shotgun like lesions on the bark at entry or exit hole
  • Sugar Volcanoes on the bark at entry or exit hole
  • Blotches of oozing resin on the bark at entry or exit holes
  • Wood frass (wood powder) on the bark at entry or exit holes

 

What Can I do about PSHB?

The PSHB beetle drills very deeply into the wood, which is why no remedy has, as yet, been discovered for this pest. We recommend KOINOR at this stage, but results are, unfortunately, not guaranteed.

The public can also aid in the management of the spreading of this infestation by reporting any signs to FABI (Forestry and Biotechnology Institute).

The discovery of this beetle in South Africa is a major concern to foresters, farmers, tree fellers and landscapers as these beetles are very aggressive and are known as tree killers. We have a large biodiversity in South Africa hosting 299 species of mammals and 858 species of birds, all depending on trees for their food and shelter. It is our duty to take care of the natural beauty we are blessed with.

Of course, of course we can!

of course we can

Hotel Hope Ministries

 

Brands Tree Fellingcomes to the rescue” for Hotel Hope Ministries in their Melville children’s home. This children’s home, catering for 18 children, had a forest of greenery in the back garden, with trees hanging over the neighbour’s property – trees that had not been cut or maintained in ages. It was a big mess and an even bigger job, but nothing that Brands Tree Felling could not handle. They managed the job in a day and a half, cutting though all the trees, cleaning up, and without causing any damage to the surrounding property.

 

The Hotel Hope Ministries charity has been in existence since 2008, and the children’s home opened in 2011. They have two homes in Melville and one in Westdene that is still being built. This organisation has had 90 children since 2011 across the two homes in Melville and of those 73 have been adopted into South African families or families abroad. Most of these children are orphaned through crime, accidents, poverty and HIV and then taken in by Hotel Hope Ministries.

 

Hotel Hope not only cares for our youngsters, but also educates the mothers through its teenage crisis intervention in Alexandria.

 

Hotel Hope Ministries initially got to know Brands Tree Felling 5 years ago when Hotel Hope had a Peach tree in the back of their property that fell over. As Hotel Hope did not have the capabilities to remove the tree themselves, Brands assisted in the process. Brands Tree Felling and Hotel Hope Ministries have been joining forces ever since as they are, according to Oliver Quambusch, “ethical, honest, and don’t do it for the glory”.

 

 

Children of Fire

 

Children of Fire,  Africa’s First Burns Charity, has a long-standing relationship with Brands Tree Felling.

 

This organisation stated that they are always on hand to give advice which trees should be trimmed, how, when, and how much. Sometimes, when a tree was cracking a building or a wall, they helped to remove a tree entirely. At other times, Brands trimmed the Pride of Bolivia, the Pride of India, the Loquat tree and many more trees that Children of Fire cannot always remember the names of.

 

They have also helped to prevent determined surplus trees from growing back, after the boles of the trees have been destumped. Child burns survivors have also been taught the difference between indigenous and alien trees, which trees support wildlife, and those which are not so good for the environment.

 

“We hope to keep working with Brands Tree Felling for many more years. They are reliable, efficient, safe and their teams are well-trained, well-equipped, courteous and tidy”.

Prune Away The Winter Decay

Prune away the winter decay

To most homeowners, trees are highly valued as they lay the foundation of any landscape.  It is for that reason that most homeowners would aim to keep their trees as healthy as possible, although this isn’t always an easy task.  One thing that is very beneficial to the health of trees is pruning.  Pruning contributes to keeping trees safe, beautiful and healthy.

Tree pruning promotes tree health

 

When trees are pruned properly, they are stripped of all the dead or dying branches.  These are often very dangerous to your trees as well as the surrounding property and any people or animals that may find themselves in the vicinity of the trees.  Cutting away threatening branches prevents further decay and promotes a trees general health as it permits the tree to nurture the remaining branches more effectively.  Moreover, trimmed trees get better air circulation and sun exposure which are two vital factors that make for healthier trees.  Regular pruning is also a good method of fighting infections and insects that may be found in trees.  When infections get into your tree, they tend to travel to all the healthier parts of the tree, ultimately endangering the tree in its entirety.  This can be avoided by trimming away dead branches to prevent infection or further spreading.

Tree pruning improves the overall appearance and structure of trees

 

Trimming or pruning your trees has the added benefit of beautifying your landscape. By cutting off all of the unappealing dead branches you can clean up your tree thereby improving the aesthetics of your landscape.  This also serves to prevent the growth of unattractive broad and fragile branches.

Moreover, tree pruning prevent trees from growing branches with frail crotches which will eventually cross each other and compete for space in the crown of the tree.  Trees can also be shaped by means of pruning.  When doing this one can smooth out uneven growth patterns, thereby make the tree more appealing to the eye.

Tree pruning increases property values

 

Properties with a groomed and well maintained gardens, undoubtedly have an increased property value.  It is therefore vital to keep you garden spick-and-span.  One of the elements of this is to make sure that your trees are always well pruned and maintained.

Tree pruning prevents possible hazards

 

As tree pruning lightens a tree’s weight, it reduces the possibility of a tree or some of its branches falling during storms or heavy rains and winds.  Another reason why regularly pruned trees are considered safer is because they don’t carry dead branches.  Dead branches can fall at any time possibly causing damage to the garden below, people, animals and buildings.

Prune in Summer or Winter?

 

Firstly, regardless of any season, if you notice that your tree has damaged or dead branches, they need to be removed as soon as possible.  For other cases when pruning, here are a few suggestions on when you should prune:  Winter pruning is a good idea as it contributes to the new growth once spring arrives.  It can lead to your tree looking more mature and fuller in the long term.  If you’re looking to prune this winter, do so as soon as the deciduous trees leaves have fallen.  Evergreen trees can be pruned in winter as soon as the coldest weather has passed.

 

It is clear from the above that pruning your trees has many benefits.  Brand’s Tree Felling can assist with the pruning and trimming of your trees as well as providing advice in this regard.  Contact us on 0861 708 000 or brandstf@mweb.co.za or see our Web Site www.brandstreefelling.co.za should you wish to make an appointment for a free Quotation.

 

 

Why hire professionals to remove my trees?

professional tree removal

We all have those annoying, overgrown trees or misplaced stumps in our yards that we would just like to bulldoze away! The gardener comes and we think that’s it – today is the day. It is like going through a bad break-up and acting on emotion: we cut half of our hair off. BIG MISTAKE! A mistake we unfortunately learn a little too late. So the gardener cuts and cuts the trees and we tie a rope around the stump, and at the back of your little 30-year- old “bakkie” and there you go. At the end of the day you sit with a broken car and trees with bad haircuts. That is why you need to hire a professional tree removal company.

 

 1.Removing trees is dangerous

 

Tree removal activities of any kind can be extremely dangerous, especially to someone who doesn’t know much about the art. Even when you are capable of taking care of the problem by yourself, you never know when something might go the other way. In such situations, whether it be falling out of a tree, cutting it the wrong way, whatever the case might be, you are actually just endangering your own life, as well as that of your neighbours.

 

2.Removing trees requires knowledge and years of experience

 

Sadly, as a layman you don’t know all there is to know about tree removal. YouTube videos and internet reading can only take you that far as it is limited to theory only, not practice. Professional tree and stump removal companies are equipped with skills, knowledge, expertise and years of experience in removing stumps and trees safely and securely without damaging people, property or other assets. A professional can advise on which trees to remove, what machinery to use, where too cute and how to attend to trees with roots in the vicinity of pipes and electrical systems. Moreover, they know which trees are rotten and dangerous and which should be saved – advice which is invaluable to the safety of your family and home.

 

 3.For the safety of your home and person

 

Cutting down trees, or even just giving it a light pruning, requires skill and technique. Make one wrong cut and the tree could fall the wrong way onto your home or worse- onto a person. Cut the wrong branch and limbs could fall in the wrong direction, causing inconceivable damage to your vehicle, your person, your home or worse – your neighbour’s home. All of these dangers can be avoided by using a professional tree removal company with the right insurance – in case a mistake occurs.

 

4.Removing trees requires proper equipment

 

Finding machinery to remove those tree stumps is not easy and you definitely can’t remove them without the proper equipment. Not only are they hard to find, they cost a small fortune. Once you finally spend your two month’s salary, you would still need training on how to use them. Instead of going through all of this hassle, leave it to the professionals – they have all equipment and training ready for effective use!

 

5.Not to mention the cleaning!

 

After trees are cut down and stumps are removed, you are still left with one big garden mess. If you have already done the removing part yourself, you and your family will be overworked and would still have to clean up afterwards. Let’s be honest – nobody likes to cook and clean. When hiring a professional company they take care of it all, making the whole removal process fly by smoothly and all that you have to do is enjoy a clean garden.

 Let Brands Tree Felling do your removal for you – professionally. Visit our website at www.brandstreefelling.co.za for more information and contact us today for your tree removal quote.

 

 

Top 10 trees to plant in small South African gardens

Being the owner of a small or medium sized garden can be challenging. Finding the best and most suitable plants to keep your garden alive can be difficult. This blog post will give you the list of the top 10 trees to plant in small gardens, thereby avoiding that struggle and having the garden you have always dreamt of.

 

1.Heteropyxis Natalensis (Lavender tree)

 

The beautiful, pale bark lavender tree with a semi-deciduous foliage, is a favourite amongst the small garden owners. With its ornamental shape, this heteropyxis natalensis species grows at a slow pace, but in due time presents its owner with an enchanting garden tree.

 

2.Kiggelaria Africana (Wild peach)

 

The Kiggelaria Africana or Wild Peach tree, is another popular choice for smaller gardens as this semi-deciduous tree can grow between 8 and 12 meters, depending on the conditions. With its stunning light grey-green foliage gardens appear open and bright. This beautiful, fast growing specimen has female and male parts on separate trees. The female tree is preferred for providing fruit for birds, attracting a host of birds feeding on fruit seeds.

 

3.Buddleja Saligna (False olive)

 

One of the most popular indigenous trees in the Gauteng region is the Buddleja Saligna tree, otherwise known as the False Olive tree. As this beauty only has a growth of 1 to 1.5 meters, it has the benefit of being one of the fastest growing trees on this top 10 list. Moreover, it does not reach an overall height of more than 3 to 4 meters in a few years, and therefore it is a perfect candidate for a small garden owner. Despite its scruffy look in time, with some pruning, it can still look beautiful in a small garden. A useful tip with regards to this tree is to plant it in a distance from pools and paving.

 

4.Dais Cotinifolia (Pompon tree)

 

The Pompon tree is a semi-deciduous tree and is considered to be on the most stunning  indigenous trees, and is steadily becoming very popular in the Gauteng region. This Dais Cotinifolia specie is fast growing reaching a height of up to 10 meters in good conditions. It is frost tolerant and evergreen with an eruption of pretty pink flowers, thereby making for a beautiful garden display in the summer.

 

5.Apodytes Dimidiata (White pear)

 

The Apodytes Dimidiata or White Pear tree with its dark evergreen foliage, grows steadily, reaching a height of 6 to 8 meters over the years. When properly and purposely pruned, it can be used as an efficient hedge.

 

6.Pittosporum Viridiflorum (Cheesewood)

 

It grows at a medium pace, but at the end of the flowering season, gorgeous yellow, edible berries blossom from this evergreen tree. As the Cheesewood tree has a non-aggressive root system, it is safe to plant it beside paving and retaining walls.

 

7.Dombeya Rotundifolia (Wild pear)

 

The Dombeya Rotundifolia or Wild Pear, is a stunning fully deciduous specie. This indigenous evergreen specimen can grow up to 8 meters long. During the summer it becomes one of the most appealing species as it bursts into masses of white flowers. Another benefit to the wild pear tree is its non-aggressive root system, making it safe to plant in the vicinity of walls and paving.

 

8.Indigofera Jacunda (River indigo)

 

This small, semi-deciduous tree sports a combination of pink and white flowers, making it an attractive and suitable tree for small gardens. The Indigofera Jacunda is a fast grower, reaching a height of 2.5 to 4 meters. When properly pruned, it can be encouraged to reach an appropriate shape. A helpful tip concerning the River Indigo is that this tree attracts birds and butterflies into the garden.

 

9.Heteromorpha arborescens var. abyssinica (Parsley tree)

 

The Heteromorpha arborescens var. abyssinica, otherwise known as the Parsley tree, is a very well-known specie in the South African Highveld. With its dark brown bark, peeling from trunks and branches, it is well distinguished. This specie can grow up to 10 meters, making it perfect for a small to medium sized garden.

 

10.Bolusanthus Speciosus (Wisteria)

 

The Tree Wisteria, a beautiful small sized tree with a non-aggressive root system is welcomed by all small garden owners. This Bolusanthus Speciosus specie grows at a medium pace and creates a stunning bluish-mauve colour during spring.

Gardening Tips for June

Winter is here and as such it is important to make sure that your garden is properly protected and maintained so as to assist it through the cold and cuddling months.

Here are some tips on how to care for your garden appropriately.

1. Protect plants and produce

In some areas of our beautiful country, June can still bring weighty rain storms and even hail. For those rare occasions, it is important to keep plants well protected with the help of heavy and anchored materials. However, and more commonly, our winter season tends to be very dry. Plants can be protected from dry weather by means of mulching. In these circumstances, gardens should be mulched with organic matter. This will decrease loss of water and repress weeds.

2. Split up the shrubs

As June arrives, so does winter and it becomes the perfect time to split up those shrubs, such as roses, lavender plants and lilies. When implementing this shrub split, always see to it that all flowers – should they be dead or alive – are cut off. This is done to guarantee that plant energy can be aimed at the growth of new roots.

3. Give plants plenty to drink

During the cold winter months, gardens dry up and the moisture contained in the soil from the rainy summer days slowly start to drain out. It is therefore vital to water gardens continuously throughout the winter period, especially in areas with droughts and in gardens with newly planted plants. When plants get watered once or twice a week, it will ensure that their roots extend further into more nutritious soil.

4. Keep gardens well fertilized

An important tip to take note of is that gardens, and especially vegetable gardens, need not only be well watered during the dry winter days, but it also should be kept satisfactorily fertilized. Ordinarily, winter gardens are fertilized every two weeks to ensure fast growth and their best yield.

5. Keep up with the weeds

It is easy to fall behind on gardening maintenance in the course of winter when cuddling in front of a hot fire or a good TV series seems much more pleasing than removing weeds. However, the garden’s weed needs must be seen to. Without nurturing your garden, you cannot expect a positive result, after all.  Frequent hoeing and the application of a good, preventative and firm layer of mulch over the soil is essential.

6. Pest the pests

Harass those garden pests before they become an irritating nuisance. Prevention is always better than cure. Pests especially love the heat, and though one might not consider this to be a problem during the winter, it sure is. Winter gardens still require mulching and as stated in previous blog articles, mulching creates a warm blanket for your soil. If these infectious pests, such as greenflies and blackflies can be caught early enough, they can also be easily dealt with. Therefore it is important to always be alert to avoid pest problems – especially from those that also transmit viruses.

 

7. Don’t forget to mow

The last thing to take note of is to ensure that your garden looks nice and neat. Mow your lawn regularly as the grass grows. During the dry months, grass might grow somewhat slower and it is also important to let it grow out to assist it in the dry spells. But more importantly – one’s lawn should not get out of hand.

 

Don’t let your garden go this winter. Nurture it as you would nurture yourself. Follow these simple gardening tips and have a thankful garden all year long.

 

 

The different types of mulches

 

Mulch acts as a protective barrier for your soil. It can be made from various materials which covers the soil when laid across its surface. There are mainly two categories of mulches: organic and inorganic or synthetic mulches – each holding its own advantages. Organic mulches decompose rather quickly and therefore require a lot of maintenance and replacement. That being said, organic mulches enhance soil fertility as they decompose, keeps soil from warming up too hastily and prevents it from getting too cold. Synthetic an inorganic mulches, on the other hand, may not have the ability to fertilize soil, but they are excellent at holding soil moisture, warming the soil, blocking out weeds and not decomposing. They are therefore perfect for something more permanent.

 

Depending on the purpose and plant, there are numerous types of mulches under each of these two categories that has the potential to benefit its user.

 

1.Organic mulches

 

  • Bark

 

Bark mulches are long-lasting, thicker types of mulches which come in a variety of shredded, chipped, chunks, or nuggets, but are most commonly made from pine, cypress, or hardwood. These mulches are most effective when used around trees, shrubs, in garden beds or other places where a lot of digging won’t be done, such as driveways, walkways and foundation plantings.

 

  • Compost 

 

Compost mulch consists of well-rotted organic matter that can be used as a soil coating or simply alongside plants during the growing season.  Compost as a mulch has numerous benefits such as enriching soil, enhancing soil’s drainage and structure and providing plants with essential nutrients that ensures their healthy and strong growth.

 

  • Hay and straw

 

Hay and straw mulches are commonly used for vegetable gardens. They act a protective layer between soil-borne diseases and lower plant leaves, thereby preventing plants from getting sick. An added benefit to using straw, is that is decomposes at a snail’s pace, thereby causing it to last all throughout the growing season.

 

  • Grass Clippings

 

Grass clippings consist of a mixed bag of mulch. As it works much like most other green plant debris, it has high water content, causing it to decompose quickly. In its decomposition process, the water can cause the mulch to get slimy, and odorous, and should therefore be used carefully.  Grass clippings should preferably be used in remote garden areas where weeds are needed to be suppressed. Clippings that are not bagged can also be used to kill herbicides and pesticides on a lawn.

 

  • Shredded leaves

 

Mulch that nature seems to love is shredded leaves. This form of mulch, however informal, can be used anywhere. It is free to obtain and lures earthworms to the soil. Shredded leaves can be spread out into a layer during the spring, or over a vegetable garden in autumn and then it will start its decomposition process throughout winter.

 

  • Newspaper 

 

As a lot of newspapers have already switched to using organic dyes, newspaper mulch is becoming increasingly popular. This form of mulch can also be used in a variety of forms, such as, in layered sheets bringing about its supreme moisture retention capabilities or when used during windy days, they can be moisture to keep them settled down. They are similar to other forms of organic mulches in that they suppress weeds and control soil temperatures. They are also beneficial for asphyxiating existing grass in order to get a new garden bed to grow.

 

  • Manure 

 

 Well-rotted or composted manure is excellent for soil enrichment whilst keeping the weeds out, the moisture in and the soil temperatures constant. It is easily available in garden stores, looks good and has a much better smell than the real thing. It is however vital to ensure that fresh manure droppings are not taken from dogs or cats.

 

 

  • Pine Needles 

 

Pine needles are not only pleasing to the eye, they are impervious to compaction, easily manageable, and able to decompose slowly, thereby lasting two to four seasons. They are also capable of acidifying soil around acid-loving plants and provide newly set or delicate plants with dynamite protection.

 

  • Sawdust

 

Sawdust is an advocated mulch for plants such as blueberries, rhododendrons, and other acid-loving greens. Fresh sawdust has the potential of being very acidic and therefore it is recommended to pile the sawdust up in one place where it will remain undisturbed for a year. Once it rains and natural decomposition takes it course, most of the acid will be sucked out and the sawdust can be used as a mulch for future years.

 

  • Bark & Wood Chips

 

Bark and wood chips are derived from many sources such as, different hardwood and softwood species, which are superb mulches for sheltering your soil. These mulches hold the benefits of breaking down slowly, and the larger barks enable water to run off, thereby adding moisture to the soil.

 

2.Synthetic and Inorganic Mulches

 

  • Plastic and Landscape Fabric

 

These mulches can be used around shrubs, trees and other foundation plantings. They don’t require a lot of maintenance as they don’t have to be fertilized or be worked through in the beds often.  As plastic heats up during the summer, it is can suffocate weeds, but it also runs the risk of killing vital sources in the soil. One must therefore provide sufficient moisture. In the case of fabric mulches, it is also important to use a thin layer of appropriate fabric, and to ensure that water can pass through the fabric by cutting holes in it.

 

  • Gravel and Stone

 

Plants that require minimal additional heat like Mediterranean herb gardens, should be mulched with gravel and stone as it lasts long, stores heat during the day and then releases it during the night. It is also advantageous to use gravel and stone as a mulch as they shield against weed seeds and diseases, it is heavy and can therefore not blow away too easily.

 

  • Rubber mulch

 

Aside from rubber toxicity, rubber is a great form of mulch as it is available in different colours that can give a garden an exciting look. It is soft and rubbery and therefore good for a playground. It commonly created from recycled tyres and ground and has the capability to productively and potently squash weeds and reserve moisture in the soil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mulching in autumn gives your soil a protective blanket

Planters are often under the illusion that mulching is for the sweet season of summer as it cools the soils, enhances soil texture, raises soil fertility and increases the earthworm population. However, the arrival of autumn does not mean the descent of mulch! Just as mulch conserves moisture and keeps the soil cool in the summer, autumn mulch acts as a winter warmer – a baby’s ‘blankie’ – for your plants and soil. It helps protect them from the incursion of winter.

Autumn mulching holds numerous benefits, including:

 

1.Autumn mulching creates an isolation layer and conserves soil moisture

Mulch creates a layer above your soil that acts a protective agent. Soils that are layered with mulch are much warmer in the cooler autumn and winter seasons, protecting the plant roots from injuries sustainable in freezing weather conditions. The mulch barrier keeps out the ice-cold autumn-pre-winter weather and locks the heat inside. In effect, plant roots are protected, soil moisture is preserved and soil is prevented from washing or blowing away in harsh winds. The rapid fluctuations in soil temperature during the cold month is protected by mulch. These climate changes have devastating effects on your plants – heaving them out of the soil, loss of moisture when moisture is evaporated through bare soil surfaces, root desiccation and even death.

 

These destructive effects can be avoided by simply adding a layer of mulch onto your soil.

 

2.Autumn mulching improves the soil’s physical structure and fertility

In the process of natural mulch breaking down, the mulch attaches humus to the soil which then raises organic matter on the surface of clay soils. This process causes the water holding capacity of light and sandy soils to improve and finally, it slowly releases nitrogen and phosphorous into the soil.

 

Organic mulches such as straw, shredded leaves, nut hulls, aged sawdust, aged manure, evergreen branches, pine needles and wood chips, are valuable in aerating the soil as it shapes the soil in a manner that is easy to work with. It also provides food for crucial and beneficial creatures that live in soil, such as earthworms and microbes.

 

 3.Autumn mulching prevents erosion and water runoff

Rain or sprinkler droplets cause bare soil to disperse and erode. Mulching the soil prevents such conditions by decreasing the water runoff, acting as ‘sponge’ and soaking up water causing it to slow down rather than break the soil apart.

 

 4.Autumn mulching reduces root competition

Another interesting advantage of applying mulch under trees and shrubs is the reduction of root competition. As a lot of trees’ roots are on the upper parts of the soil, they face competition from other plants and trees as to who will get the water and nutrients. When one applies mulch under trees and shrubs, it eliminates that competition and provides the trees with moisturizing soil and the water and nutrients that they require.

 

 It is clear that mulching in autumn carries layers of benefits. This natural soil blanket is an investment as the cost of replacing your beauties is much heavier on your pockets than is the cost of mulching. Moreover, mulching a landscape looks more appealing and unifies the overall scene. Put a mulch blanket around your tree baby and ensure its warmth during this cold season. Winter is coming, don’t let the plants suffer