by Charlene Burgi
Mulch, mulch, mulch. The benefits of mulch are huge. It covers drip systems, protecting them from damage, and keeps roots warm in the winter and cool in the summer. As organic mulch breaks down, it adds amendments to the soil. Mulch also prevents evaporation of water from the soil. Studies show there is a 25 percent reduction in irrigation water needed when mulch is applied.
However, mulching your entire property may have an unintended negative impact on our environment. Native bees are disappearing. Human development is leaving little natural habitat for these insects, which nest in soil. By covering 100 percent of your soil with mulch, you have lost the opportunity of encouraging these beneficial insects to live in your garden.
You might ask why that is an issue. Here’s why: Bees are one of the primary beneficial insects that provide the pollination required for fruit and vegetable production. If you have fruit trees and grow vegetables, you will want to encourage bees for higher yield. If you would like to support the dwindling bee population and make it possible for them to perform the work that is so important to our environment and life support, I would suggest reevaluating your garden area. See if there is some portion of it that could do without mulch and keep the soil exposed.
If this is not an option and you want to attract these pollinators, you can build a bee box or purchase one online. You can even purchase the native bees best known as mason bees. To learn more about these beneficials, visit this website: