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How to Properly Mulch Around Your Trees

Spring is the best time to spend some time revamping and preparing your yard for the year to come. A significant part of preparing your trees for the seasons approaching is re-mulching around the trees on your property. So we're digging deeper into mulching with some insight into common malpractice in mulching, volcano mulching.

What is volcano mulching?

Volcano mulching is a form of incorrect mulch placement against the trunk of a tree. The mulch is installed in a way that resembles a volcano from which the tree trunk appears to be erupting from. You can also spot volcano mulching if the tree trunk's root flare is covered, and only the remaining cylindrical portion of the trunk is visible. While this practice is so prevalent that it seems to have become an accepted mulch application method, it can cause more harm than good for your trees.

How is volcano mulching affecting my trees?

This is a guaranteed way to stress your trees and possibly kill them. Here are some things that are happening under the surface of volcano mulching.

  • Moisture in the mulch against the tree's bark encourages fungus and rot.
  • Hair like feeder roots designed to absorb water and nutrients from the soil can remain in the mulched area rather than move into the soil layers.
  • Tree bark needs sunlight and air to remain hardened, so this practice is similar to leaving a band-aid on a wound way too long.
  • Excess mulch creates a barrier preventing water and air from reaching the soil properly.
  • Root flare is the area at the base of a tree where the trunk transitions from trunk and bark tissues into root system tissues. Volcano mulching can cause the root flare to grow improperly or become buried, causing stability issues, poor growth and make the tree more prone to insects, disease, and wind.

What does proper mulching look like?

Proper mulch techniques prevent mechanical damage from mowers and string trimmers. It also encourages moisture to remain in the tree's root zone.

  • Mulch should only be at a 2-3" depth, and excess should be removed and replaced each season to prevent the build-up of mulch.
  • Mulch should NOT physically touch the tree's trunk.

Take some time to evaluate the much around your trees. If you notice that your trees are improperly mulched, don't hesitate to call Monster Tree Service. Our professional arborists to come to give you a free evaluation and help you come up with a solution to get your trees in shape for spring!

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