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Mulch or Rocks at the trunk/base of your palm tree


Bill Nanaimo

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50 minutes ago, Silas_Sancona said:

Actually, darker rock ( Inc. Red lava / cinder ) will warm up / melt snow faster than light colored stone like certain light toned, high quartz bearing Granites / Basalts, and light colored Lime/ mudstone, or White Marble chips < by far the ugliest gravel mulch option on earth, imo, lol >

As for the overall debate,  as I have said numerous times over the years when this discussion crops up ..Ain't no one going around spreading woody chips across the hills out in nature..  if plants survive without it in nature,  they dont need it in the garden. 

Best organic "mulch" is the bounty of free leaves and spent flowers, etc that are shed by everything in the yard each year, left on the ground to decompose and enrich the soil.  

Untrue with the red lava rock melting snow faster. My whole front yard is half red lava and the rest is gray/white river rock. Sun or clouds, red lava holds the snow the longest. Has to do with thermal mass and the storage/release of heat.  Also, at 24f(under snow?)white objects(river rock) become black bodies and absorb thermal radiation as well as something flat black. Good info if growing hardy palms in a colder climate. 

Maybe only my yard tho 

I only had one snow this year and did not take a pic.  I try and take a pic next snow.

 

 

Edited by jwitt
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The red rock mulch retains snow longer than the tan or even gray rock across the street..  Demonstrable every year in my neighborhood.

rock.png

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2 hours ago, Silas_Sancona said:

Actually, darker rock ( Inc. Red lava / cinder ) will warm up / melt snow faster than light colored stone like certain light toned, high quartz bearing Granites / Basalts, and light colored Lime/ mudstone, or White Marble chips < by far the ugliest gravel mulch option on earth, imo, lol >

As for the overall debate,  as I have said numerous times over the years when this discussion crops up ..Ain't no one going around spreading woody chips across the hills out in nature..  if plants survive without it in nature,  they dont need it in the garden. 

Best organic "mulch" is the bounty of free leaves and spent flowers, etc that are shed by everything in the yard each year, left on the ground to decompose and enrich the soil.  

Are we talking about desert palms or tropical palms ? I go by what experts say not just an opinion.  I don't live in the desert and for the type of soil we have here it is recommended to use mulch for best growths.  Palms in nature grow a lot slower and don't always look that healthy.  Nothing wrong with adding stones etc it just doesn't have the same benefits of bark mulch or any other organic mulch.  

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43 minutes ago, MarcusH said:

Are we talking about desert palms or tropical palms ? I go by what experts say not just an opinion.  I don't live in the desert and for the type of soil we have here it is recommended to use mulch for best growths.  Palms in nature grow a lot slower and don't always look that healthy.  Nothing wrong with adding stones etc it just doesn't have the same benefits of bark mulch or any other organic mulch.  

Technically,  like most other plants / plant families which originated in the tropics, then spread out across the globe  during warmer climatic periods, all palms would be considered tropical. Some were able to adapt to life outside the rainforests as various areas got cooler / drier by finding habitat niches where they still have access to water. 

Gauranteed, if you wandered around places which recieve very little or no reliable water,  but are warm  and/ or never freeze ..say Death Valley, the desert flats around the mouth of the gulf of CA for example, unless pourposely planted by people, there are no palms there. You'll only native and introduced species  growing where there is an underground spring in rocky canyons, along river courses, and Oasis -type habitats.  Note the habitat pictures of Washingtonia or Brahea.. heck, Thrina, Cocothrinax, Pseudophoenix, and Copernicia often grow on nearly bare limestone, not gro-mulch. 

As far as true rainforest species,  equatorial and cloudforest,  many often grow on various types of rock, or dense clay, overlaid by a layer of accumulated organic duff.  No one chopping up tree trunks and scattering the woody remains around every palm in the forests with a chipper.  As far as some specimens looking better than others in habitat,  that's how nature is.. Not every seedling that germinates is going to make it to maturity, or look flawless if it does.   Natures  "Perfect imperfection" as someone once explained..

As with all plants, slower, steadier growth is better than forcing them to grow far faster than nature intended. The " Gotta grow it as fast as possible"  notion is a human hang up. 

Leave the leaves, plant and let native and non-aggressively weedy annual stuff, grasses, and perennial stuff live and die in the voids between taller things..  Far more benefit than applying wood mulch will ever provide.  As for the stone, it too breaks down, slowly releasing whatever minerals / elements it was made up of.  Far better fertilizer option than applying chemical stuff that destroys / pollutes everything.

 

 

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22 hours ago, Silas_Sancona said:

As for the overall debate,  as I have said numerous times over the years when this discussion crops up ..Ain't no one going around spreading woody chips across the hills out in nature..  if plants survive without it in nature,  they dont need it in the garden. 

Not sure I agree with the overall sentiment regarding wood chips. Don't trees and shrubs shed quite some woody material throughout the seasons just as they do leaves? I am sure not all landscapes 'need' it but anecdotally, when one is doing any soil building for a garden, the layers of woodchips have improved my poor soil considerably and, I am pretty sure, has contributed to healthier plants and a broader range of plants I can grow. There's several benefits to mulching with wood chips and the drawbacks appear to be minimal (see attached for university fact sheet).

I get what you're saying and I suppose you won't deny the importance of mulch in landscapes. In fact, I probably could have gotten the same results with leaf mulch (if not better). if I could use leaves, I would. However, I find leaves harder to get for the mass of organic material I believe I need for my circumstance. Leaves are also way trickier to apply to the landscape. Now, I do try. In fact, I am one of those neighbors who will drive around hoods and get the garbage bags of leaves. Too lazy to shred them but I do spread them around quite thick to make garden beds. Put munch on top to keep it all in place.  

Mulch.pdf

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On 8/6/2021 at 8:24 AM, Bill Nanaimo said:

What’s your opinion Rocks vs Mulch at the base and why ? 

Mulch does not last in my climate. Drys up in hours and blows away.

I use rocks, big and heavy.  Why? I live in a 7b climate and it is the only sure way to get seedling(actually seeded in place) palms to a larger size to attain mass and self protect. I do not use active protection(tarps, etc.). 

Why big rocks? They create a thermal mass and knock the edge off the extremes. Just like planting against the foundation of a house. 

Here are some pics including some large palms that survived -10f.   Zoom in and look at the rocks at the base. An interesting side note is the fact the palm on the left,(smaller rocks) did not leaf out until July 4, the other in March/April. Coincidence?

IMG_20160317_111837.jpg

IMG_20160317_114109.jpg

IMG_20160422_103720.jpg

5a4fec7c75beb_Alb_Washingtonia1.thumb.jpg.b855fd528223760e1d4bcfdef0bf6a52.jpg

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1 hour ago, Swolte said:

Not sure I agree with the overall sentiment regarding wood chips. Don't trees and shrubs shed quite some woody material throughout the seasons just as they do leaves? I am sure not all landscapes 'need' it but anecdotally, when one is doing any soil building for a garden, the layers of woodchips have improved my poor soil considerably and, I am pretty sure, has contributed to healthier plants and a broader range of plants I can grow. There's several benefits to mulching with wood chips and the drawbacks appear to be minimal (see attached for university fact sheet).

I get what you're saying and I suppose you won't deny the importance of mulch in landscapes. In fact, I probably could have gotten the same results with leaf mulch (if not better). if I could use leaves, I would. However, I find leaves harder to get for the mass of organic material I believe I need for my circumstance. Leaves are also way trickier to apply to the landscape. Now, I do try. In fact, I am one of those neighbors who will drive around hoods and get the garbage bags of leaves. Too lazy to shred them but I do spread them around quite thick to make garden beds. Put munch on top to keep it all in place.  

Mulch.pdf 350.95 kB · 0 downloads

Yes, depending on environment factors influencing it,  you'll always have x %'age of harder woody material being shed by plants each year.  That said, larger twigs, branches, and whole trunks will usually break down close to where they fall,  with smaller decomposers moving the broken down remains around the forest floor, and deeper down into the soil over time.  

Walking around in a forest,  grassy field ..or even here in the desert, lol.. Biggest yearly contribution of organic imput comes from leaves and lighter dead plant material that breaks down rapidly once the life cycle of x plant / plant part has ended.   

As far as remediating barren / depleated "poor" soil,  ( a controversial assumption since there are plants that will grow in pure Gypsum, Serpentine, fresh, solidified lava, or salt crusted hardpan soil areas )  you start fixing those conditions by mimicing how nature does it..   Watching a virgin roadcut or recent wildfire scar over time,  you'll notice the succession of plants that race to occupy that newly exposed "mineral" soil..

Annuals and grasses move in first, followed by tougher perennial things that crowd out the annual / seasonal things. Shrubby stuff and tree saplings start to grow after all the " lesser plants", if you want to call non-woody plant life that..  have laid down enough organic duff on top of.. and into the soil that the seedlings of those woodier plants can establish themselves with less threat of drying out as they dig in.

I'm sure I've mentioned it in the past but a good measure of assessing the fertility of a patch of soil can be gauged by the amount of weeds growing..  While non native, those plants are serving the same function as the natives they're displacing... colonizing bare dirt and starting the revegetation process. 

As far as wood mulch goes, yes, anything organic laid down upon it will help improve soil,  Simply filling in every open space between taller plants with smaller plants, then leaving whatever leaves / other debris is shed by those plants / collects between those plants each year to sit on and decompose into the soil will accomplish the same goal, and often faster.  - and it is free.

Here, I cut the "lawn" with a string trimmer, and leave everything cut to sit afterwards. Olive sheds a lot of leaves ..and olives, lol. I leave most of that stuff  and any weeds pulled to sit on the lawn as well.  If it were up to me ...and I could find enough of the right native grasses, I'd nuke the lawn down to bare soil, and install more of a meadow I'd only have to chop n' drop once or twice a year. 

From a maintenance standpoint,  having landscaped in 5 very different states,  biggest pain in the **** yards to maintain used wood mulch..  Anyone who thinks applying it keeps down the weeds is kidding themselves, lol.  Forget trying to rake or blow through it.  In both KS and Ohio,  even 8" inches of the stuff did not keep the soil below it from freezing.  Heavy rain runoff in all areas did the same thing it does here, washes the stuff away..

For the most part, rock  stays put and is much easier to maintain.

  As far as the "Rock runs hotter than wood mulch" end of the discussion,  yea, open expanses of it can roast for sure..  Yards like that rarely look all that great anyway.  Every yard here with such a barren landscape is the perfect example of what not to do, unless you like roasting, and one heck of an air conditioning bill, through the summer esp. lol.  Every inch of that rock should be covered / shaded by plants.  Tall and short.  

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1 hour ago, Jerrrod said:

What if I put rocks on top of wood mulch? What's the best size rocks to use?

Rocks partially buried(1/3-1/4) into soil, or at least, good contact with soil.  Biggest and heaviest, stay away from light(weight-lava) rocks. 

Weight more important than color. 

My experience.

On top of mulch probably fine, better than without rocks(thermal mass). At least in my mind, although no personal experience with that route 

Edited by jwitt
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  • 3 weeks later...
6 hours ago, MSX said:

Hint, the red lava is under the snow

Red Lava or Scoria is porous and a good insulator like pumice and acts like sawdust of bark.

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13 minutes ago, Banana Belt said:

Red Lava or Scoria is porous and a good insulator like pumice and acts like sawdust of bark.

And very poor for storage of thermal energy(mass). 

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