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wood chip mulch before willow/hard wood rod planting?

Posts: 16
Location: Delmarva Peninsula, MD Zone 7
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I am doing a some hedge restoration this winter and plan on planting a mix of rods and sapplings. These will include imported willow and red osier dogwood and a selection of rods and sapplings from the existing hedges, including wild plum, black locust, some sort of alder, sassafras, maples, and oaks. I am going to plant a lot of everything and see what survives on its own. My primary question is whether I should mulch the areas with wood chips prior to planting? The largest patch has had its top soil removed in the past and has been mowed for the last 10 years. I have enough seasoned chips to cover about 3" deep. I think this will slow down competition from the grass and hold more moisture through the winter and spring. Any thoughts on the merit of this approach? Thanks, Woody
Posts: 23
Location: Ontario, Canada. zone 5 continental cold temperate
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Hi Woody,
This sounds like a great experimental project! I don't know what your climate is so I don't know how relevant my answer will be. (hint: add your location/climate see: ).

We've done a similar experiment here in Ontario, Canada (garden zone 5). We plunked in some willow branches (?whips?) in the spring and just let them be. Well, we watered them fairly regularly with fishpond wash. Nothing seemed to happen for quite a while so one day in the summer, I gave a tug on one of the stems and it didn't pull out, but the second one did and it had tiny little rootlets on it. About a month later, leaves appeared bit by bit.

We did put mulch on when we knew were going to be away for a week during our vacation. About 2 - 3 inches. When we returned (only 6 days later) a whole bunch of leaves (relatively speaking) had appeared, even on the stems that had seemed dead! So, yeah, I would recommend mulching.

Let us know how your experiment goes.
Posts: 1444
Location: Fennville MI
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The only reason I would not do what you are describing Woody is if I had something else I felt was a higher priority to be doing with the woodchips The other thing I would consider seriously is inoculating the woodchip mulch with King Stropharia spawn. Stack your functions and get a yield.
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