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Tree Care: Proper Mulching

Wood Mulch is a good source of nutrients and protection for your tree.  Once a year the mulch should be turned and new mulch added as needed.  Mulch should be applied from the drip line toward the trunk.  If this is not practical, minimum mulch circles should be 1.1 feet for small trees, 3.3 feet for medium trees and 9.9 feet for large trees.  As beneficial as mulch is, too much can be harmful.  The recommended mulching depth is 2 to 4 inches.  Mulch should not be piled up around the base or against the trunk of trees.  This is called a "mulch volcano".  

Instructions for Proper Mulching:

  • Piling up mulch at the trunk of the tree will kill the tree.  Mulch deeper than 2 to 4 inches can lead to excess moisture in the root zone.  It may also stress stem tissues and lead to insect and disease problems.
  • If mulch is piled against the trunk, pull it back several inches so that the base of the trunk and stem crown is exposed.
  • Keep mulch flat, not mounded, so that water will not run off.
  • Check the depth of mulch.  If 2 to 4 inches is already present, just rake to refresh and break up mats.



   Benefits of Proper Mulching:

  • Mulch helps maintain soil moisture. Evaporation is reduced, and the need for water can be minimized.
  • Helps control weeds. A 2 to 4-inch layer of mulch will reduce the germination and growth of weeds. 
  • Mulch serves as nature's insulating blanket. Mulch keeps soils warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
  • Mulch can give planting beds a uniform, well-cared-for look.


updated Feb 18, 2016