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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 ( or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons