Mulching Your Trees – What to Know…

Mulch isn’t an absolute requirement for every landscape, but it can provide a variety of benefits both for your landscape’s appearance and for tree health. If you’re planning to have your trees mulched, you will want to know more about the process before you get started.

What is Mulching?

Mulching mimics some of the benefits usually enjoyed by trees in a forest setting where leaves and other organic materials break down into soil.The most common type of mulch is recycled wood waste in the form of wood chips. However, there are many varieties of mulch, both organic and inorganic.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to consider when planning to mulch your trees…

  1. Do: Remove Old Mulch Before Adding More

    If there is existing mulch around your plants, trees and shrubs, be sure to remove at least some of this old mulch before adding more. This can help to minimize rot and pests so that the new mulch can effectively freshen and enhance the environment.


  2. Do Spread Mulch Wide Enough
    A good layer of mulch can help protect your tree’s roots from the greedy competition of grass roots. Although the tree’s roots may have looked tiny when you planted the tree, the roots will expand rapidly over the next few years, just as the branches will. Ideally you will want the tree’s mulch to be several feet wide, and you may want to expand it a little each year as the tree grows. It’s a good idea to ‘mulch wide’ – mulch out to the tree’s drip line or beyond if possible.

  3. Don’t ‘Volcano Mulch’
    Avoid placing mulch against the tree trunks. This is called ‘volcano mulching’Also, don’t make mulch too thick or deep. Apply a 2 to 4-inch layer of mulch unless a drainage problem exists.
    While mulch can be a positive influence, more of a good thing isn’t always necessarily better. If you make it too deep and pile it against the tree’s trunk, mulch can start to break down in ways that could harm the tree. For instance, the mulch could harbor moisture and cause trunk rot, or could even provide a living space for unwanted insects that could infest the tree.

  4. Do Use the Right Type of Mulch
    Always use the best quality mulch that you can purchase from a reliable supplier. If you get mulch from a low-budget source, you may be inviting all sorts of trouble. Organic mulches (Shredded bark, leaf compost, and composted wood chips) all work well, and break down into the soil, adding nutrients to it. Inorganic mulches such as plastic and rubber may keep moisture in the soil and prevent weeds, but has no nutrient value for the soil. It’s recommended to always use a good quality organic mulch for best results.

  5. Don’t Use Dyed Mulch

    Some inorganic mulches may contain sprayed-on colorants full of toxins bad for pets and kids. They can also leach into the soil and destroy beneficial microbes. Colored mulch can actually rob trees and plants of the nitrogen they need to survive, whereas natural mulches retain moisture and add organic material back to the soil enabling the plants to better utilize nitrogen.


  6. Don’t Use Cocoa or Other Chocolate-based Mulch if You Have Pets
    Choco-based mulch such as cocoa mulch is toxic if you have pet cats or dogs. The sweet smell is enough to attract your pets to chew on the mulch. This type of mulch is harmful to pets and can poison them, causing discomfort or even sickness.


Tree Mulching is Tree Care

As it decomposes, mulch provides the essential nutrients as it takes on a new life as the next layer of soil promoting growth and keeping your trees and surrounding soil in good health. We hope you have found this Do’s and Don’ts of Mulching Your Trees informative and helpful. For further advice and your tree care needs don’t hesitate to contact us and speak with one of our expert arborists.