Mulching can be very helpful for your trees, and it isn't hard to do at all. Mulching not only protects and improves your trees' health, but it can also improve the appearance of your landscape. In the forest, trees sink into soil that is full of organic nutrients, especially because of the leaves that continuously die and decompose to replenish nutrients in the soil. In an urban yard, however, the soil is often hard and depleted of nutrients, which means trees aren't as healthy. What's more, moisture and temperature extremes can affect the rooting system, which mulching seeks to protect. Mulch can only be helpful to a tree when it's done properly; otherwise, it may be detrimental to its health. This article highlights four common mistakes homeowners make when mulching their trees.
1. Mulching over frozen/overheated soil
There isn't a perfect time to apply mulch, but if spring has just begun, it's important to wait a few weeks for the soil to warm before covering with mulch. Similarly, mulch is best applied and refreshed before summer heat sets in so that your trees' roots are protected from the temperature extremes that interfere with nutrient absorption and growth.
2. Creating mulch volcanoes
Rather than create a mulch-hill that touches the surface of the trunk, it is advisable to create a doughnut-shaped ring where there's room between the tree trunk and mulch layer. There are two reasons for this: covering the trunk causes over-retention of moisture around the trunk which can lead to splitting and cracking, and later on, pests and diseases can attack through such openings. Also, the trunk needs to 'breathe' properly and covering with mulch interferes with this.
3. Applying insufficient or too thick mulch
While soils will benefit greatly from mulching, applying too thick a layer can become counter-productive. Standard depth is usually 3-4 inches, but this depends on the type of soil you're dealing with and the material you're using for mulch. Overly-think mulch prevents proper aeration of soil underneath as well as water retention which can lead to rotting and disease in the root system.
Sandy soils will benefit from thicker layers, while clay/slow-draining soil should have a much thinner layer, even just 1-2 inches. In addition, choose materials that have medium texture – not too course or too fine – for best results. In addition, your ring of mulch should extend at least 4-5 feet in diameter around the tree, but you can have larger diameters if your trees have far-reaching roots. Some people prefer to reach the tip of the dripline (edge of the tree's furthest-reaching leaves).
Taking care of trees can be challenging, and sadly, there is a lot of misleading information on the Internet about the best ways to take care of trees. To try to shed light on these shady organisms, I have decided to start a blog. Hi, my name is Mandi, and I have always loved trees. Through the years, I have built tree houses, travelled to the woods to chop firewood for the winter and trimmed trees to help them survive. It is one of my favourite hobbies and something I have devoted a lot of time and research to. If you want to learn about trees, explore this blog, and thanks for reading!