Should Grapes Be Mulched at Their Base?
Mulching grapevines at their base offers advantages and disadvantages to your crops. It is important for gardeners to weigh both sides before deciding to mulch. In addition, the type of mulch and how much is used is equally as important. Improper mulching leads to excess soil moisture, rodent problems and fungal diseases.
Grapes are mulched at their base to reduce weed populations, conserve soil moisture and prevent soil erosion, according to the Ohio State University. In fact, mulched grapevines benefit when gardeners use a mulch type the contributes nutrients as decaying matter decomposes. It is important to note that when using an acidic mulch, such as pine needles or sphagnum moss, the mulch should never come in contact with the grapevine. The acidic properties in mulch burns grapevines.
Several disadvantages may deter gardeners from using mulch. Rodents and pests thrive in organic mulch, according to the Ohio State University Extension. Furthermore, fungal spores that cause diseases overwinter or live within organic mulch. Grapevines have a difficult recovering, because they are continually exposed to fungal spores traveling through the wind and rainwater. Using an inorganic mulch, such as gravel, prevents fungal spores from living right at the base of your grapevine.
Types of inorganic mulch that gardeners may use at the base of their grapevines includes rubber chips, plastic sheeting and non-woven geotextiles, according to Susanne Von Rosenberg from the "Napa Valley Register." Inorganic mulch is not a permanent mulch. Rubber, landscaping fabric and plastic sheeting degrade over time in the sun. Furthermore, organic mulch types that gardeners use consist of compost, straw, hay, leaves, grass clippings and saw dust. When using grass clippings, avoid using an clippings that have been treated with herbicides.
How to Mulch
Mulch is applied several different ways depending on the amount of money you want to spend. Gardeners can mulch the entire vineyard floor or only 4- to 5-foot bands within trellises, according to the Ohio State University Extension. For those wanting to control soil erosion, mulching only between rows is effective. The thickness of your mulch layer depends on the type of mulch you are using. Organic mulch is generally deeper than inorganic mulch such as crushed bricks.