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Wood chips or bark: What makes the best mulch?

Make a "donut" of mulch around a tree. (Photo
courtesy Sacramento Tree Foundation)
SacTree shares tips, hosts mulching event

What’s the best mulch for trees?

According to the Sacramento Tree Foundation, wood chips make the best mulch.

Avoid rocks or bark, said Pamela Frickmann Sanchez, the foundation’s education program manager.

Rocks absorb heat and add nothing to the soil. Bark takes too long to break down. But wood chips slowly release nutrients while also retaining moisture and keeping soil (and roots) cool.

“Put the wood chips directly on top of the soil (or lawn surrounding the tree),” Sanchez instructed. “Don’t use landscape fabric underneath; that prevents decaying wood chips from benefiting the soil. All that rich organic matter just ends up on top of the fabric, feeding weeds and not the tree. You’ll end up with worse weeds than with no fabric at all.”

Get more mulching advice – and help lots of trees – during SacTree’s upcoming Mulch Day at Bohemian Park in Arden-Arcade. Starting at 8:45 a.m. Aug. 24, volunteers will spread wood chip mulch around the park’s trees.

“We mix mulching with education,” Sanchez said. “You’ll learn as we work.”

That includes the correct way to mulch a tree. Spread the chips like a thick doughnut around the tree, leaving space next to the trunk.

All ages are welcome to join in during the Aug. 24 event, part of SacTree’s summer-long Mulch Mayhem campaign. Register in advance at SacTree’s website.

Bohemian Park is located at 3131 Wright St., Sacramento. Participation in Mulch Day is free.

For more tips and to sign up for Mulch Day: .


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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden needs nutrients. Fertilize shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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