How To Mulch Trees Without Harming Them

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Spreading a layer of mulch around your trees can provide them with nutrients and keep water sealed in the ground – if you apply it properly. Applied improperly, mulch can actually be detrimental to trees, contributing to trunk rot and fungal infections. To ensure your mulch is doing your tree a favor rather than harming it, follow these steps.

Step 1: Carefully check your mulch source.

Usually, wood mulch purchased from a landscaping company or a garden store is safe to use because it has been chemically treated to make sure it is free from insects and fungi that might harm your tree. If you purchase your wood mulch from a private supplier or obtain it from a neighbor who chops up old trees, you need to be a lot more careful. Make sure the trees the mulch was made from were disease-free. If the person selling or giving you the mulch has any doubt of this, it is best to get your mulch somewhere else, since spreading mulch made from infected trees could spread the infection to your tree. Also, take a look at the mulch. If it looks moldy, has a moldy smell, or you see bugs in it, look elsewhere.

Step 2: Water and fertilize before applying the mulch.

If you are mulching around a mature tree with an established root system, there is generally no need for watering and fertilization. However, if you are mulching around a younger tree, you should apply water and fertilizer before you apply the mulch. If you apply it over the mulch, some may eventually make its way into the ground and into your tree, but a lot will be absorbed into the mulch and will evaporate before soaking into the ground.

Remember to water and fertilize in a circle that stretches a few feet out from the tree, since this is where the tree's roots are found. Dumping water or fertilizer at the base of the tree is of little value.

Step 3: Apply the mulch in a flat circle around the tree.

One of the most common mistakes people make when applying mulch around trees is piling it up against the trunk in a volcano shape. This traps moisture near the trunk and leads to rot.

The proper way to apply mulch is to spread it in a circle that is about 10 – 12 feet in diameter (no need to be specific), but that leaves a few inches on either side of the tree. The mulch layer should be slightly thinner as it approaches the trunk, and slightly thicker towards the outside of the circle. This way, you don't have to worry about the pile of mulch collapsing inward against the trunk. About 2 inches of mulch towards the inside of the circle and 6 inches towards the outside of the circle is ideal, but once again, there is no need to be overly specific.

There you have it! Once your trees are properly mulched as advised above, just apply a new layer once a year, and you should have healthy, happy trees for years to come. For professional help, contact a service like Corner Landscaping & Tree Service.

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27 November 2015

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