Proper Way of Mulching Under Trees.
It is beneficial to mulch under trees, but this needs to be done properly or it will not be healthy for the tree. The tree needs access to oxygen in the soil though the roots. Most tree roots grow shallow (12-18 inches below the surface), where they access the oxygen. If you find the roots are coming up above the ground, it may be due to the soil being compacted (without enough oxygen).
This is where mulch comes in. It nourishes and protects the soil along with discouraging grass from growing and competing for the nutrients and moisture around trees. In the forest this happens naturally, as leaves and needles fall they stay there and provide moisture, nutrition and oxygen. As we rake this naturally occurring process away on our property during cleanup, we need to replace it with something.
Even though mulching is beneficial, over mulching can be dangerous as well as a waste of money. Thick mulch will smother the roots and the decomposition of the mulch produces heat that kills bark tissue.
The Do’s and Don’t of mulching
Do spread a wide layer of mulch to cover the root system. This provides nutrients, moisture and oxygen. As well as protects from bark damage from mowing and weeding.
Do Mulch newly planted trees. This eliminates competition for nutrients, retains moisture and looks good. Spread mulch out beyond planting hole.
Use organic mulch. Gravel and rubber do not benefit the tree. They store heat, are difficult to weed and are a nuisance when they get in the lawn.
Never mulch the trunk of the tree. Keep mulch 4-6 inches from the trunk of the tree.
Don’t let the layer of mulch get thicker than 3-4 inches. This cuts the access to oxygen and generates heat while decomposing.
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