There are several key advantages to mulching trees in your yard or garden, one of which is the preservation of moisture. If you live in a region with low rainfall, this technique can help your trees retain a greater amount of water.
When the rain pools up around your tree, it’s naturally retained in the mulch where it’s slowly absorbed by the tree in the weeks to follow. Of course, mulching also reduces the chance of weeds while improving the soil structure.
But how exactly should you apply mulch around a tree?
Choosing Mulch For Your Trees
First and foremost, you’ll need to choose an appropriate type of mulch to use around your tree. While there are literally dozens of different types available for sale, they are typically broken down into one of two different categories – inorganic and organic.
Inorganic mulch consists of non-living ingredients such as rocks, pebbles, lava rock, rubber pieces, etc.
Organic mulch consists of living ingredients such as wood chips, pine needles, leaves and compost. Some gardeners even create their own mulch using leftover fruit and vegetable scraps.
So, should you choose organic or inorganic mulch to use around a tree? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Inorganic is stronger, longer lasting and able to withstand floods and downpours more easily than its counterpart. Many gardeners prefer inorganic due to its ability to hold up under the constant strain of mother nature.
Organic mulch offers some key nutritional benefits for trees but doesn’t last as long. It’s also best to use mulch from the same general area because the acidity in the mulch will match that of your trees and flower beds better than getting mulch from another location. As the mulch breaks down and integrates into the soil, the nutrients from the mulch will be much more beneficial to your landscape.
After choosing a mulch type, it’s time to apply it to your tree. Before you start, though, you should clear out the base of your tree, removing any weeds, invasive plants, rocks or other debris.
Ideally, the base of your tree should be clear and free of any plants or debris. This will provide a more suitable area for the mulch to rest, allowing your tree to reap the full benefits of it.
To apply the mulch, simply sprinkle it around the base of your tree. Depending on the particular type of mulch, you may want to pack it down with your hands to create a more stable environment.
For instance, pine straw and compost mulch requires some extra work to ‘pack’ it down around the base of the tree. Make sure the compost is applied around the entire base of your tree, expanding out about 8-12 inches in a radius.
It’s important to note that applying too much mulch can have a detrimental effect on the health of your tree. Far too many gardeners built large volcano-like piles of mulch around their trees and gardeners.
While this usually won’t cause any immediate harm to your tree, it will restrict its nutritional intake, resulting in slowed growth among other health problems. Regardless of your tree’s height and size, you should never apply mulch higher than 3 inches tall. And you should separate the mulch from the base of the tree a couple of inches.
Where to Get Mulch
You can purchase mulch at any of the big box home improvement stores, your local nursery or a specialty landscape materials yard.
In addition, many of the cities in our service area offer free mulch to residents. Here are a few links for more information:
If we can help with any of your tree care needs give us a call at 512-846-2535 or 512-940-0799 or