What is Mulch and Do Your Trees Need It?

mulch around treesMulch is not the latest dance craze, a super fruit from the Amazon or a new men’s hairstyle rivaling the man bun. Rather, mulch is material that is used to protect the roots of trees and shrubs from harsh elements and the risk of damage. And yes, your trees need it. Adding mulch around trees is an often overlooked but important step when planting new trees. Even mature trees will benefit from the addition of mulch. It provides a number of benefits for the health and longevity of trees. Not only does mulch help protect your investment, depending on the type of mulch you select, it can add a decorative quality that enhances the aesthetic of your yard.

Benefits of Mulch

  • It insulates the roots and helps provide protection from drastic changes in temperature.
  • Mulch helps the soil retain water to keep the root system moist and prevent evaporation when the soil heats up.
  • It adds nutrients to the soil as the material breaks down if it is an organic source.
  • Mulch assists in reducing root competition from weeds.
  • It prevents the soil from becoming compact.
  • It provides an opportunity to recycle yard debris.

Selecting the Right Mulch

There are a number of options when it comes to selecting mulch. Some options are better than others, but much of it comes down to personal preference. Most tree care professionals will recommend that you choose organic sources over non-organic choices such as bark over rocks.

For the ultimate DIY types, re-purposing yard debris such as composted leaves, grass or a mix of both are easily accessible and can likely be procured on your own property. Both provide a good source of nutrients as they continue to break down. Chips or bark from hardwood sources are long lasting and can be purchased from landscaping supply companies or in bags at home improvement stores. They typically last a bit longer since they won’t decompose as quick. They also can add an attractive element. Manure will add plenty of nutrients but should be composted before applying. It’s also a good idea to mix it with another mulch source that has a fine texture to help keep it from clumping or compacting.

Method for Applying Mulch

Once you’ve practiced your dance moves, ate your super fruit from the Amazon, and tied your hair up into a man bun, you’re ready to get to work. There are three simple guidelines for properly applying mulch around trees.

  1. Determine the diameter of the area that needs to be covered. The general rule of thumb is a minimum of three feet but best practice is extending it out to the drip line of the branches which will likely be four to five feet.
  2. Spread mulch in the predetermined area to a depth of about three or four inches. The mulch should not come into contact with the trunk of the tree. So, create a little ring around the base. This will prevent the retention of water which can lead to decay and disease.
  3. Replenish as necessary to maintain the three to four inches of depth for maximum protection.

Follow this method for applying mulch around trees. Your trees will reward your efforts with years of good health and beauty.

With over 20 years of providing expertise and quality work to clients around the region, our certified arborists at ArborPro are reliable sources for any mulch-related job and will happily answer any questions you have. We also offer hazard tree removal, 24-hour emergency services, pruning, and tree planting. Free estimates are just a phone call or click away!

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