Don’t Volcano Your Mulch – Unless You Want to Kill Your Trees

Part of keeping a neighborhood looking beautiful is maintaining the landscaping of common areas and residential properties. For many people this means mowing your lawn, keeping bushes trimmed, raking leaves and seasonal mulching. A fresh layer of mulch keep trees healthy and can increase the aesthetic value. Too much mulch, what is commonly referred to as a mulch volcano, however, is a disaster waiting to happen.

The Benefits of Mulch

Mulch is made of decaying plant material like leaves and bark. It enriches the soil allowing trees and shrubs to grow by providing nutrients. Mulch has added benefits as well including cooling the soil on hot days, fights against weed growth and conserves water in the roots of the tree.

A two- or three-inch layer of mulch applied in the spring should do the trick. You don’t have to remove the previous year’s mulch either – assuming you didn’t add too much then. Also, be sure not to put the mulch right up against the base of the plant. Instead, give a two-inch mulch-free area.

More Is Not Better – Beware the Mulch Volcano

If some mulch is good, more mulch must be better, right? Not so! Large piles of mulch around the base of a tree or too much mulch in a flower bed is a bad idea for the following reasons:

  • Mulch holds water, which is good, but too much water pressed right against the trunk of the tree can start to rot the bark.
  • Mulch-eating insects and rodents will find a nice home in a big pile of decaying debris.
  • The moist environment will also allow fungi to thrive which can damage the tree.
  • The roots may get smothered and cause the tree to die.
  • Tree roots could also start to grow in circles immediately under the tree instead of branching out into the soil which gives larger trees stability.
  • Roots could even begin to grow up into the mulch volcano.

It’s time to let the mulch volcano go extinct! Keep your trees and landscaping healthy and save money by not purchasing unnecessary amounts of mulch and keep our neighborhoods beautiful.