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How To Mulch Your Tree

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Mulching is the most beneficial thing a home owner can do for the health of a young tree. Mulches are materials placed on the soil surface to improve soil structure, oxygen levels, temperature and moisture availability. Properly applied, mulch can give landscapes a handsome, well-groomed appearance.

Mulch must be applied properly. If a mulch is too deep or if the wrong material is used, it can actually cause harm to trees and other landscape plants. Mulch should usually be 2-4 inches deep.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Takes 5 minutes plus finding a mulching material

Here's How:

  1. Pick an appropriate time to mulch: Mulch annually in spring before soil moisture decreases and temperatures increase. Mulch Prior to, during and after construction or infrastructure changes affecting tree roots and tree health. Mulch after tree injury
  2. Find and prepare a good quality mulching material. Organic materials are preferable to inorganic materials (rock, stone, shredded rubber) but when organic mulching materials decompose, they must be replenished. I recommend these mulches: Wood chips, composted for 4 months minimum, pine needles, tree bark, leaf mold or compost.
  3. Always use this mulching method: Apply mulch in a circle covering the entire root system of a tree. Most of the fine, absorbing roots of a tree extend well beyond the tree canopy, or drip line. The general recommended mulching depth is 2-4 inches. Keep mulch at least 6 inches from the base of the tree trunk.
  4. Make sure you are not doing this: Mulching with a deep layer of material (over six inches of material). Mulching with piles high against the trunks of young trees. This can lead to insect and disease problems.
  5. Think about how mulching benefits the tree by: Conserving moisture · Improving soil structure · Reducing soil compaction · Increasing soil aeration · Increasing the available nutrients · Suppressing grasses and weeds · Making the arborscape attractive · Helps prevent damage from mowers and weed whackers

What You Need

  • Shovel and/or rake
  • A mulching material

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