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Use mulch to sell your home faster

By Darrell Blackwelder

I recently did a presentation for the Salisbury/Rowan Association of Realtors about the benefits of landscape improvements to aid in selling homes.

Adding fresh mulch is an essential part of landscape improvement. Fresh mulch can turn a drab, lackluster landscape into a flowing master design in a matter of a few minutes.

Here are a few tips and information on adding mulch to beautify your landscape.

Pine bark: Bark mulch is often artfully piled high (mulch volcanos), a foot or more, against the trunks of the trees in and around Salisbury landscapes. Excessive application of mulch can result in a situation in which roots are growing in the mulch and not in the soil. This can be a problem in poorly drained soils or during droughts. Excessive mulch also invites insect and fungal disease. Applications of 4 to 6 inches of pine bark or other mulches are recommended for trees and shrubs. Pull the mulch back 6 inches from the stems and trunks of trees.

Pine needles: Is there an advantage to using longleaf pine needles over other types of pine needles? Longleaf pine needles tend to last longer than loblolly or shortleaf pine needles. The longleaf pine contains wax within the cell that gives the surface a shiny finish and keep the  needles from deteriorating over a long period of time.

Plastic mulch in landscapes: Using black plastic mulch in landscapes around shrubs and trees to control weeds is not a good solution. It prevents water and oxygen penetration to the roots, initiating stunted plant growth. Weeds such as Bermuda grass and nutsedge will eventually grow through plastic mulch, becoming a nightmare to weed. Porous ground cloth will allow water to penetrate and limits weed growth, but weeds will eventually emerge through the material.

Mulch will not control weeds: Mulch will suppress weeds but not control them. Bermuda grass and other weeds will grow right through mulching materials. Hard to kill weeds such as Bermuda grass, nutsedge and others should be eliminated before applying mulch.

Herbicides in mulch: There are commercial mulches available that have pre-emergence herbicides impregnated into the wood fibers. It is usually dyed wood mulch that will keep emerging weeds at bay for about two months. It is a good deterrent for most weeds if you have a severe weed problem.

Darrell Blackwelder deblackw@ncsu.edu is the retired horticulture agent and director for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.

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