2008 | Thayne Montague and Cynthia McKenney, Texas Tech University
Organic mulch (pine bark, pruning chips, pine needles, etc.) is thought to provide many benefits for urban landscapes (increased soil water retention, reduced weed competition, moderate soil temperature, etc.). In fact, the landscape industry often advises placement of organic mulch on soils surrounding established landscape trees. However, limited research has been conducted to determine if organic mulch placed around established landscape trees is beneficial to the growth and health of the trees. If gas exchange (transpiration, photosynthesis, etc.) and apical growth (leaf area, trunk diameter increase, shoot growth, etc.) of existing landscape trees are enhanced by the placement of organic mulch around trees, it would be critical to inform nursery and landscape personnel. Likewise, if gas exchange and growth of existing landscape trees are adversely affected by placement of organic mulch around trees, those in the landscape industry should be informed and recommendations altered.
Our research confirms that soil abiotic factures are influenced by organic mulch placed over soil. Our research also determined that depending on a tree species genetic composition, organic mulch placed around root zones of established trees may limit or enhance tree gas exchange and growth. Our data confirm tree species may be sensitive to the influence organic mulch has on soil abiotic factors. Cultural practices around established trees (such as the use of organic mulch) should be carefully considered prior to making recommendations.
Funding Duration: 1-3 years
Grant Program: John Z Duling
Grant Title: Impact of Post-Establishment Applied Organic Mulch on Gas Exchange and Growth of Landscape Tree Species
Researcher: Thayne Montague
Key words: gas exchange; organic mulch; overall tree health
Peer Reviewed Publications from Grant:
- Whitehurst, K., T. Montague, and C. McKenney. 2010. Impact of post-establishment applied organic mulch on gas exchange and growth of landscape tree species [Abstract]. HortScience. 45(4):512. View the Publication >
- Montague, T., C. McKenney, and K. Decker. 2011. Impact of post-establishment applied organic mulch on gas exchange and growth of two oak tree species. Southern Nursery Association Research Conference. 56: 351-357. View the Publication >
- Montague, T., C. McKenney, and K. Decker. 2012. Response of redbud (Cercis Canadensis) trees to post-establishment applied organic mulch. Southern Nursery Association Research Conference. 57:178-184 View the Publication >
General Audience/Trade Publications: none
- Whitehurst, K., T. Montague, and C. McKenney. 2010. Impact of post-establishment applied organic mulch on gas exchange and growth of landscape tree species. Annual Conference of the Southern Region of the American Society for Horticultural Science. Orlando, FL
- Montague, T., C. McKenney, and K. Decker. 2011. Impact of post-establishment applied organic mulch on gas exchange and growth of two oak tree species. Southern Nurserymen’s Association Research Conference. Mobile, AL.
For more information on this project, contact the researcher via TREE Fund at firstname.lastname@example.org.