There's no doubt that a mulch installation is one of the most beneficial things you can do to keep your trees healthy. But you know what they say about too much of a good thing. Well, the same is true for mulch.
This week, we're giving you tips on how to install mulch properly so you don't end up causing more harm than good.
The benefits of mulch
Peer-reviewed research has shown that mulch and compost are two of the best and most cost-effective treatments for trees in compacted and/or disturbed urban soils.
Trees in forest environments enjoy rich, well-aerated soil that has all of the essential nutrients and soil microorganisms a tree could want. And those nutrients and microorganisms are constantly being replenished by leaves, organic materials, and living organisms that cover the forest floor.
Trees in urban environments don't have those same luxuries. The soil in the urban landscapes of our Charlotte, NC yards usually doesn't have as many nutrients or as much organic matter that a tree would like.
Mulch is great because it can help recreate the natural debris of the forest floor. When installed properly, mulch can:
- Moderate soil temperatures
- Conserve soil moisture
- Reduce soil compaction
- Suppress competition (like weeds)
- Release essential nutrients
- Prevent trimmer and mower damage to roots and trunks
The dangers of an improper mulch installation
Yes, there are wrong ways to install mulch! Two main ways, in fact.
One way you can install mulch improperly is just by using too much. Mulch is a great tool to use to conserve soil moisture, but a layer that's too deep can lead to excess moisture in your tree's root zone. That excess moisture can lead to plant stress and root rot.
Fine mulch can also become matted and keep water and air from reaching your tree's roots if you use too much.
The second way you can install mulch in a way that can hurt your tree is by piling it right against your tree's trunk. Doing that can lead to insect and disease issues, stress of the inner bark tissue, or girdling roots. It can also create a home for rodents that may chew on the bark of your tree.
Keep these tips in mind while installing mulch in your Charlotte, NC yard
To make sure your mulch efforts don't end up hurting your tree, follow these tips:
- Don't pile on the mulch.
A 2- to 4-inch layer is all your tree needs — less for fine mulch and more for coarse mulch.
- Leave 3-6 inches of space between the mulch and your tree's trunk.
Create a donut, not a volcano.
- Install enough mulch so that it extends out at least 3 feet in all directions from your tree's trunk.
And to make your tree really happy, install it all the way out to the edge of your tree's crown, or even further out. A tree's root system extends well beyond the drip line!
Worried your tree might already be suffering the consequences of an improper mulch installation? We may be able to help! Let us check out your tree to see if a root rehabilitation or pest treatment can get it back in good health.
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