[NAFEX] water shedding mulch

Alan Haigh alandhaigh at gmail.com
Thu Oct 29 14:47:50 EDT 2009

Mark wrote "In cases where there are only puny rains, yes some mulches may
water, but 1/4" rain isn't going to do much for a tree in bone dry soil".

Interestingly, Carl Whitcomb, the master of counter intuitive research
suggests in his book "Establishment and Maintenance of Landscape Plants"
that frequent shallow watering is a better way to get trees through drought
than fewer deep waterings.   It gives the trees what they need without
stimulating new vegetative growth which would require increasing amounts of
water.  So maybe 1/4" of rain could make the difference in a trees survival
although I figure Mark is fundamentally correct.

Also, on the subject of mulches matting up and repelling water, I do think
this can be quite a problem in any normal summer here in southeastern NY
(as if we ever had normal summers).  I have never had stable waste do this,
but shredded wood is automatic in this regard.  It never happens to me with
wood chips, but shredded wood gets glued together with fungus and completely
sheds water.  No amount of rain will penetrate it.  This can be advantageous
for weed control under an established tree but for an establishing tree, and
especially blueberries, this can be fatal.  This mulch can be broken up
periodically to assure water penetration but the problem is usually
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