Mulch trees…but not too much!

Residential landscapes can be harsh environments for trees. One of the best ways to keep your trees healthy is to add mulch.

Mulch helps stabilize and create a natural environment for tree growth. It controls weeds and curbs the spread of tree diseases, and a properly applied layer of mulch also keeps the lawnmower and trimmer far enough away to avoid causing damage.

It’s really a delicate balance. However, don’t make the mistake of over-mulching because it can do more harm than good.

Follow these rules of thumb from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA):

  • When applying mulch, the depth around a tree should be two to four inches. If there are drainage problems in your yard, a thin layer of mulch is suggested
  • Avoid placing mulch right up against the tree trunk. This will discourage and keep pests at bay
  • Mulch out to the tree’s drip line or beyond, if possible. The tree’s roots extend beyond that point. For more mature trees, it’s okay to mulch inside the dripline
  • Organic mulch is preferred. Use wood chips or shredded bark mulch. They will decompose and improve the soil
  • Mulch can be applied at any time of the year

By Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons