Hemlock mulch is a type of natural mulch made from the bark and outer rind of the hemlock tree. Mulch is a general term used for any organic or inorganic material that is spread around plants to improve aesthetics, regulate soil temperature, and improve moisture retention. Natural mulches break down over time, adding to the richness of the soil. Hemlock mulch is an organic mulch that has a rich red, orange, or burgundy color, depending on the aging method applied.
Mulching has many benefits in flower gardens, vegetable plots, shrub beds and around landscape trees. A thick layer of mulch prevents weeds from growing by smothering the seedlings. Mulch regulates soil temperature, keeping the ground cool in summer and warm in winter. In dry seasons and climates, mulch slows the evaporation of moisture from the soil. Mulch is also used to improve the aesthetics of garden or landscaped areas and the space around trees, specimen plants, and shrubs.
Hemlock mulch is a natural wood mulch that is derived from finely shredded hemlock wood, bark, and branches. The natural red and orange tones in the wood are enhanced during the drying and aging process. The orange, red, and burgundy tones of hemlock mulch add rich color to landscape beds and garden areas. While some forms of hemlock plants are poisonous, hemlock mulch is not, because it is derived from a non-poisonous tree that is uses the hemlock name.
To be effective, a thick layer of hemlock mulch should be applied once or twice a year. Over time the material will break down and the color will fade. A thick 2-inch to 4-inch (5-cm to 10-cm) layer of mulch applied in the fall will prepare the soil for winter and insulate the roots and soil from frost. A second application may be applied in the late spring to freshen the appearance of the landscaped areas and hinder the development of weeds, though hemlock mulch is slow to decompose and may last a full year or so. Mulching in the early spring should be avoided, because it prevents frozen ground from thawing.
When mulching around trees and shrubs, the mulch layer should begin from 3 inches to 6 inches (about 7 cm to 15 cm) away from the base of the plant. When natural types of mulch are piled up close to the bark of a tree or shrub, insect infestation, rot, and mold is encouraged. In a garden or shrub bed, the mulch should cover the entire area. When mulching individual trees or specimen shrubs in the landscape, the mulch layer should extend out to the area below the outer tips of the branches.