How to Mulch Around Your Trees
A common question we often hear from homeowners is, “Should I put mulch around my trees?” The short answer is: yes – but within reason.
Aside from being beautiful to look at, mulch provides a lot of benefits to your trees, especially when they’re young. Benefits include providing a weed barrier, insulating the root zone, reducing evaporation, and adding beneficial nutrients to the soil as it breaks down.
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.
How To Mulch Around Your Trees
Some best practices that we recommend to properly mulch your trees:
- Never allow mulch to touch the trunk of the tree. Mulch should start about 2-3 inches from the base of the tree to avoid excess moisture buildup at your tree’s trunk.
- Mulch a 3-10 ft wide radius from the tree. Tree roots grow far and wide, ensure they’re covered by mulching at least 3 ft in all directions from the base of your tree. You will find this area easier to maintain if you remove grass and weeds before applying the mulch.
- Mulch 2-4 in deep. As mentioned above, mulching too thickly can harm the growth of your tree but applying mulch too thinly can allow for the development of weeds that compete for the resources your tree needs and reduce insulation to its roots.
- Maintain your mulch. Over time mulch will settle and breakdown so it’s important to maintain your mulch on a regular basis. Add mulch in areas that have become too thin and pull back mulch that has come in contact with the tree’s base. When reapplying mulch be sure to use the same type that you used in your initial application to match color and consistency.
Get Your Mulch at Gaston
Now that you know the best way to mulch around a tree, it’s important to buy a quality mulch product for your landscape. At Gaston Mulch and Soil, we offer a wide variety of mulches for every need and our mulch calculator can help you determine just how much you’ll need. Order online or contact us today!