How to Mulch around Trees

Adding mulch during your landscaping routine can be a great way to significantly improve the curb appeal of your property.  Not only can it add to your front and backyard aesthetically, but it can also play an important role in helping with the growth and prosperity of your trees. Signing up for mulch delivery can be one of the most important things a homeowner can do for their trees and lawn!

There are many different kinds of mulch you can buy, ranging from dried leaves to pieces of rubber.  Depending on the kind of mulch, it can facilitate the natural growth of plants in your soil by providing the soil with an environment mimicking that of heavily wooded areas.  Some mulches are made up of wood or leaves and protect the surface of your soil as shedding leaves and branches would in the forest. 

Though purchasing and applying mulch to your lawn is far easier than other cosmetic / structurally important landscaping changes, there are a few things you should keep in mind before tackling the task.  

Why You Should Consider Mulch 

Especially in urban areas, the soil on your property may very likely be shallow and overall have less quality than that of suburban and rural regions. In this case, covering your lawn with mulch can prove to greatly benefit the health of the plants rooted in lower-quality soil. 

One way that mulch assists with maintaining the soil are by trapping moisture that is needed by the roots of your plants.  It can provide the density necessary to allow the soil to soak up water for longer periods of time, and it can also prevent moisture from evaporating off of the surface of your soil.  In addition, organic mulches can act as a slow-releasing fertilizer that provides the nutrients necessary to keep your soil environmentally prosperous.  Not only does mulch provide your lawn with moisture retention and fertilizing qualities, but it also acts as a compacting material to keep your soil from eroding easily. 

Without mulch, lower-quality soils may erode very easily leaving you with an issue when it comes to planting bushes and trees that greatly depend on extensive root systems to thrive.  Another way that mulch can improve the quality of your plant growth is by inhibiting foreign grasses and weeds from taking root and invading your yard.  

Organic v. Inorganic

You can purchase both organic and inorganic mulches to put on your property.  However, organic mulches have proven to be healthier for your yard in the long run.  If you are planning on reapplying mulch to a yard filled with vibrant plants or especially if you are adding new young plants to your yard, makes sure that you purchase an organic mulch.  Organic mulches can be made up of different kinds of wood, broken up leaves, pine needles, and/or softwood bark.  These materials will best mimic the conditions of a healthily wooded area with organic debris that breaks down over time to replenish the soil with healthy nutrients.  

Tips on Applying Mulch to Your Trees

One of the most common mistakes made when adding mulch to enrich your landscape is creating “mulch mounds” around the base of young and even old trees.  Mulch mounds look like dirt piled up around the trunks to the extent where the height of the mulch is several inches higher at the base of the trunk than it is around the perimeter of your mulched area.  These mulch mounds create several problems that are detrimental to the health of your trees and shrubs, especially the younger ones that need an extra push to get growing once planted. 

One issue that mulch mounds create is the runoff of the water that is used for periodic irrigation.  Instead of seeping down into the soil where the roots are, the water can quickly slide laterally from the base of the trunk and collect in a ring on the outer edges of the mulched area.  Furthermore, having a thicker layer of mulch right around the trunk of a tree creates an extensive height that water must seep down into in order to reach the roots.  Mulch mounds can detriment the health and growth of your plants to the extent that the base of the plant / the trunk will begin to rot.  Make sure you are careful with your application of mulch and you are creating a thin even layer around all areas of your yard, including around bushes and trees.  

Ideally, a two- to four-inch layer is the perfect amount of mulch to both protect your soil and allow the roots of plants to obtain the proper water and nutrients.  As alluded to earlier, too much mulch can hurt the growth of your plants by keeping much-needed moisture from reaching their roots.  Too thin of a layer of mulch will not provide enough protection from harsher warm and cold temperatures and will not provide the soil under with adequate compaction and fertilization.

Timing Your Tree Mulch

Timing and location are also important things to take into consideration when laying down a layer of mulch.  Though you can do it year-round, it is best to apply mulch to your yard during the Spring when the temperatures are more moderate.  This will allow the mulch to trap a layer of fresh air with a good temperature in the soil layer.  Also, make sure if you are applying mulch around a tree to promote its healthy growth that you extend the layer of mulch to the edges of the canopy of the tree.  It is likely that the roots will expand outwards and under the edges of the tree branches, so putting mulch in these areas as well as right around the trunk will be best for the future health of your tree.  

To Mulch or Not to Mulch

Overall, mulch can serve as a great aesthetic feature in your yard and can also serve to curate the proper environment for your young or old bushes and trees.  Though your plants may not suffer without a layer of mulch surrounding them, it is likely that applying a relatively thin layer would pay off in the end for plant growth. 

Call Hawkins Landscape Supply today to get the mulch your trees need!

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