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The value of mulching shrubs and young trees can never be over-emphasized. In Australia's hot summers, a great deal of moisture is robbed from plants if they are not mulched. Mulching materials include leaf mould, grass clippings, stable manure. bark chips, pebbles or gravel and leaf litter which can be supplied by some councils. Use a good thick layer of mulch around the plant which will conserve moisture and protect any surface roots from drying out. Organic mulches, such as manure, will also provide nourishment to the plant but make sure before using such a mulch, that the plant will accept it. Some of the pines for example will not tolerate horse manure.
Another good mulch is sawdust or wood shavings but these create an acid reaction, ideal for azaleas and plants that like acid soil, but deadly for those that don't. If sawdust or shavings are used as a mulch. it is necessary to add a chemical fertilizer containing nitrogen to the soil because these materials will draw nitrogen from the soil to assist the breaking-down process. Nitrogen is a most necessary requirement for plants so if it is taken from the soil it must be put back. Some nitrogen compounds include sulphate of ammonia, nitrate of soda and ammonium nitrate.
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