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How to Mulch Around Your Trees

A common question we hear from homeowners is, “Should I put mulch around my trees?” The short answer is: yes – but within reason.

Concerns centered around whether or not putting mulch around a tree will kill it ought not lead a homeowner to avoid proper maintenance via mulching, as mulch provides many benefits to your trees, especially when they’re young. 

These benefits include providing a weed barrier, insulating the root zone, reducing evaporation, and adding beneficial nutrients to the soil as it breaks down, which we will discuss in greater detail.

Weed growing through mulch

Mulch can be a great addition to your landscape, but there are a few things to consider before you dive in.

Mistakes to Avoid When Mulching Your Trees

Unfortunately, you don’t have to drive far to see examples of how not to mulch. 

Many people assume that “mulching” is nothing more than tossing a load of wood chips at the base of the tree and while the application of mulch is pretty straightforward if it is done improperly it can actually harm your tree, rob nutrients from the soil, and draw water away from important areas.

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make when mulching their trees is creating a “mulch volcano.” This is where the mulch pile starts out thin at the edges and then gradually increases until it reaches the base of the tree, creating a mound that resembles a volcano with a tree exploding out of the center.

This can be dangerous as rainfall and watering will naturally cause the mulch to become damp over time. Excess moisture in contact with the tree creates the perfect environment for decay and disease that can inhibit growth and possibly kill the tree.

Additionally, mulch piled too thickly can actually block oxygen and water from getting to the root zone (where it’s needed most) causing roots to grow upward and around the tree trunk in search of nutrients. Roots should not be growing into your mulch. If they are, it’s a sign your pile is too thick.

Also, make sure to avoid using plastic or fabric barriers underneath the mulch, as these hinder the soil from receiving the maximum benefits. 

Benefits of Mulching

Think about it: mulching brings the forest home for your trees!

The forest floor is an ideal environment for tree health and vitality due to its ground cover, made up of all organic matter varieties, including twigs, leaves, rotting flowers, and other natural debris. Although it gives the environment a more unkempt appearance than we typically want for our residential lawns, these materials serve an important purpose in shielding the soil and tree roots and allowing for optimum tree growth. 

Trees in a rainforest

The good news is that you do not have to recreate the same forest floor look at home, but you can give your trees those same nutrient-dense benefits by adding mulch to your landscape’s trees. 

These are just some of the numerous benefits of bringing the forest home for your trees via mulching:

Without the same healthful environment found on the forest floor and recreated by mulch, tree soil is at risk of drying out, becoming overheated or cold, or unable to provide adequate nutrients. 

What is the Best Type of Mulch?

Organic vs. Inorganic Mulch

There are many different types of mulch available, but organic mulch is the clear winner when it comes to soil nutrition. 

The term organic mulch refers to anything natural, such as wood chips, bark, pine needles, hay, leaves, or compost. Organic mulch is more beneficial to trees than inorganic because as the organic mulch decomposes, it allows for soil microorganism growth in addition to the following benefits: 

Contrarily, inorganic mulch is human-made. It often contains harsh chemicals that can negatively affect soil, and while it does provide some weed protection, it does not offer as many benefits as organic mulch.  

How To Mulch Around Your Trees

Once you have chosen the mulch for your landscape, it is time to lay it down. Here are some best practices that we recommend to properly mulch around your trees:

How to mulch your tree diagram

Courtesy of arborday.org

Get Your Mulch at Gaston Mulch and Soil

To bring the benefits of the forest floor home to your trees through effective mulching, rely on the advice and products from our expert team at Gaston Mulch and Soil. We offer bulk options to suit project needs of any size and delivery options available throughout Florida. Even better, all of our mulch is created from our Gaston’s Tree Debris Recycling processes, making mulching a greener process for our customers. 

Contact us today so we can help you mulch your way to your healthiest trees yet!