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Which Mulch is Best For Fruit Trees?

The Right Type of Mulch For Your Fruit Trees

Mulch prevents weed growth around fruit trees, saving you time and effort. A layer of mulch also helps to retain soil moisture, stabilize soil temperatures, and can offer nutrients as it breaks down. This is why installing mulch is so important for the health of your tree.

Organic mulches like wood chips, shredded leaves and leaf mold are best for fruit trees. Inorganic mulches may rob the soil of valuable nutrients over time. If you go the organic route, be sure to replenish it at least once a year.

Shredded Paper

A layer of shredded paper makes an excellent and economical mulch for fruit trees. It is quick and easy to apply, keeps the ground warm, helps prevent weeds, and provides some nutrients in the long run. Be sure to use paper that is free of toxic chemicals and utilizes plant-based inks (your office may be able to help). Shredded paper also helps keep the roots cool and prevents fungus issues in hot weather.

In the long run, organic mulches improve soil structure and provide a host of beneficial microorganisms to the soil that feed the tree. Inorganic materials like black plastic are not recommended because they limit the amount of moisture and air that gets to the root system.

If you have access to the young branches of a willow or spruce, try using those as a mulch for your fruit trees. Research has shown that these types of ramial wood mulches can actually boost the immune system of fruit trees to save them from diseases like apple scab. However, ramial wood mulches steal some nitrogen from the soil in the first year so they should be used on top of other types of organic materials. In addition, you want to avoid piling up the ramial wood mulch too high around the trunk of the tree. This can lead to moisture buildup and trunk rot.

fruit tree with mulch

Wood Chips

Mulching is a great idea for fruit trees. It helps suppress weeds and allows the soil to soak up water more effectively. However, not all mulches are created equal. Using organic mulches will best simulate the natural environment that your fruit tree desires, and will help provide it with the nutrients it needs. Inorganic mulches, such as the colored varieties you can purchase at most nurseries, will rob the soil of nutrients and may leach unwanted materials into the ground and into the roots of your fruit tree.

A popular woody mulch is cedar mulch. While it is a good option, keep in mind that wood mulches take a long time to break down. This can trap moisture against the roots of the tree and encourage fungal diseases. This is not a problem for mature trees, but it is a concern for young ones.

Wood chips are a better choice for most fruit trees. They will break down more quickly than cedar and also are a little less prone to harbor rodents. However, these should be laid no more than 6 inches away from the trunk of a young tree. As with shredded paper, these should be wetted down thoroughly before use. One thing to avoid is laying woody mulch over a layer of compost or manure, as this will steal nitrogen from the roots of your fruit tree and inhibit its growth.

Ramial Chipped Wood

Ramial chipped wood is a green mulch that works wonders for fruit trees and other plants. It is made from slender branches and twigs that are chopped up by hand or with a commercial chipper from deciduous wood like willow, poplar, sycamore and oak.

This material is perfect for mulching because it retains moisture, regulates soil temperature, suppresses weeds, and provides valuable nutrients to the soil. It also contains cambium, which is rich in salicylic acid, a compound that boosts the immune system of tree roots.

A great way to use ramial chipped wood is to incorporate it into your garden beds in the fall, just after you’ve cleared them from last season’s annuals. As it decomposes over the winter, fungi will turn it into stable humus and release nitrogen back to your soil. This process mimics the natural environment of a forest floor, which is ideal for growing fruits and vegetables.

You can also add ramial chipped wood to your compost pile for pre-composting before using it in your vegetable garden or raised beds. You can then add this to your potting mix or other planter mixes for a rich organic amendment that helps build healthy soil. Avoid using hay or straw for mulch around fruit trees as they tend to contain weed seeds and may leach unwanted chemicals into the soil.

Ramial chipped wood


There are a lot of different mulches that can be used around fruit trees, and most of them can be helpful for their ability to suppress weeds, retain soil moisture, and slow the evaporation of water from the soil. However, some of them can actually be harmful and should be avoided. In particular, any kind of mulch that is made from black plastic or other black materials will limit the amount of oxygen and nutrients that can get into the soil beneath the tree.

In general, a good mulch should be organic and come from a source that is free of pathogens. It should also be shredded finely, to be more easily digested by the soil microbes that will eventually break it down and provide nutrition to the trees. A great option is ramial chipped wood, which can be made from young branches that have been pruned off of healthy trees. These branches contain the cambium tissue that is rich in the nutrients fruit trees need. If the ramial chips are made from something like willows, they also offer the additional benefit of salicylic acid (yes — it’s one of the main ingredients in aspirin) which has been shown to boost the immune system of apple trees and help them fight off disease and insect pests.

A big problem with using bark mulch, however, is that it takes a long time to break down and may tie up a lot of nitrogen over the course of that period, which could cause stress in your fruit trees. For this reason, it is important to use this type of mulch only over a layer of something else that will provide the essential nitrogen to your fruit trees in the short term, such as compost or manure.

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We are a full service landscaping company located in Orlando, FL. Specializing in lawns service, landscape design, installation, and general landscaping services. Over 10+ years of experience.

Collegiate Lawn and Landscaping

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(407) 205-8237