Mulches provide aesthetic, economic and environmental benefits to urban landscapes. Mulching is especially useful in the establishment of trees in landscapes that receive minimal care, such as restoration sites. In general, mulches improve soil health, creating healthy populations of plants and associated animals. These biodiverse, stable landscapes are more resistant to stress, are more aesthetically pleasing, require fewer applications of pesticides and fertilizers, and are ultimately more sustainable than those without mulch cover. All mulches are not created equally, however, and this review compares the costs and benefits of landscape mulches as reported in the scientific literature. It also presents real and perceived problems associated with various landscape mulches.

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Author notes

Acknowledgments: I am most grateful for the thoughtful, constructive comments provided by two anonymous reviewers and for Dr. Fretz's assistance in preparing this Viewpoint article.

2Associate Professor. Email: <lindacs@wsu.edu>.