This article says it best.
By Gary Johnson, University of Minnesota Extension St. Paul, MN (8/6/2007)
“For trees and shrubs, the single, most effective way to moderate soil moisture fluctuations and reduce irrigation is to apply a generous layer of mulch (preferably organic).
It is astonishing how long the soil below a generous mulch layer remains moist, even in drought periods. In addition to moderating soil moisture extremes, organic mulches break down and continuously add organic matter to the soil horizon.
Use a minimum of three to four inches of coarse organic mulches (e.g., wood chips, but not redwood nuggets), or two to four inches of finer mulches (shredded bark, hulls, composted leaves). Don’t pile the mulch against the stems of plants.
If you annually add a fresh topping of mulch, do not remove the old mulch. When old mulch is removed, all of the wonderful fine roots of the trees and shrubs are removed, too. Treat your trees and shrubs as a forest or prairie does with annual, light applications of organic materials.
(Natural areas do this with their old leaves, dead roots, and dead branches and thatch.) Mulches don’t make water–they conserve water. Make certain that the rhizosphere (root environment) is thoroughly moistened before the mulch is applied. Use a soil probe to check.
PARKWAY LAWN SERVICE can help advise you on using mulch in your yard. Along with conserving soil moisture, Mulch adds to the overall beauty of garden spaces and landscaping giving the space a finished look.
Call PARKWAY at 612-869-5878 for a free MULCHING estimate.