The trees are YELLING–

“Stop with this piling up mulch around my trunk–you’re killing me!”

Volcano mulch piling--WRONG!

Volcano mulch piling–WRONG!

What is the purpose of mulching?

  • to conserve moisture in the soil
  • to suppress unwanted growth

So–what are the proper mulching practices that will accomplish these purposes as compared to what is now commonly being done by most landscaping companies? Because what they are doing now is simply ripping you off and doing permanent damage to your trees and bushes. The high dense piles of mulch that surround your trees actually contribute to the rotting of the bark surfaces and provide a moist environment for fungal diseases and insects who feed on the bark to proliferate; encourages surface root growth that are not true roots as they are formed from cell tissue, not root tissue;

Surface roots

Surface roots caused by too deep surrounding of mulch

discourages deep supportive root development; prevents the penetration of needed moisture to roots; and promotes extensive and destructive root girdling around the base of tree. This all weakens the health and strength of your trees and shortens their lives.

           Proper mulching practices:

  • mulch should be from 3″ to 4″ away from the tree trunk–depending on the size and age of the tree.
  • mulch should be only 2″ to 3″ in depth and should never be applied in a “volcano” shape which slants upwards from the ground to the tree.
  • mulch should be laid out flat and ideally be extended to the drip line of the tree–that is out to where the branches stretch.
  • attention needs to be paid to the type of mulch used and should never include chips from pressure-treated lumber, telephone poles, or construction materials.

Trees do need care. This includes deep feeding them the right nutrients along with the proper amount of moisture. Soil analysis and identifying the type of tree and its needs, will extend their lives greatly.

Root girdling of trunk

Root girdling of trunk – Bad Bad Bad for trees

Rotting bark

Rotting bark – disease or insect infested due to conditions created by mulch placement

If you have this type of mulching practice on your property, you will need to slowly correct it–using the specs above. Doing it too drastically will not let the tree adapt. Start first with reducing the mulch depth to three inches and spreading it out to the branch drip line or near to that mark. Then proceed with gradually separating the mulch from touching the surface of the tree. It would be good to consult a tree expert as to the condition of the health of your specimens. A small investment now will certainly bring a longer life.