The Benefits of Mulch Around Trees: How Mulching Can Improve Tree Health

The trees in your yard are a critical part of the landscape around your home. Not only do they lend shade to your yard and help keep soil in place, but they also complete your landscaping aesthetic. Trees are an investment, too – they aren’t cheap to add or replace. It’s important to protect the trees in your yard and ensure they have everything they need for long, healthy lives, and one of the best ways to do it is to invest in tree mulch. 

What’s Beneficial About Mulch Around Trees? 

Putting mulch around trees is actually one of the most beneficial things you can do for your trees’ health. Here’s why you should consider making it part of your yard care strategy: 

  • Mulch helps to conserve moisture around your tree – it increases the water infiltration into the soil, and slows evaporation so more water gets to the tree’s roots. 
  • Tree mulch also improves soil structure and fertility, especially in urban and suburban environments where nutrients might be lacking. Further, it helps improve soil aeration as it decomposes. 
  • Tree mulch also helps prevent soil compaction – there tends to be less foot traffic over mulch, so your soil stays looser and the tree roots can breathe. 
  • Putting mulch around trees helps to protect trees from temperature extremes – it keeps the roots cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. 
  • Tree mulch impedes the growth of weeds and other plants around the tree, which cuts down on the competition for water and nutrients from the soil. 

Plus, putting mulch around trees helps prevent damage to trees and their roots from mowers and yard trimmers. 

Which Tree Mulch Should I Be Using? 

Curious how to mulch around trees? The first step is to choose the right tree mulch. You can choose inorganic mulch like rocks or stones, but you won’t get the same benefits as organic mulch (like wood chips). 

Related: 5 Advantages of Tree Stump Grinding

When choosing an organic mulch, hardwood bark is always a good option. This type of tree mulch is often a blend of bark, wood, and leaves, and is an inexpensive option that brings a multitude of soil-enhancing properties to the table. Finely shredded mulch decomposes faster so if you don’t feel like replenishing often, choose a mulch that’s thicker and heartier. 

The best time to apply organic mulch is in spring – soil temperatures will have warmed enough to promote root growth. However, you can apply mulch to landscape trees pretty much any time of the year. 

How to Mulch Around Trees 

Now let’s talk about mulching around trees. Believe it or not, it’s not as simple as just tossing mulch down and walking away. Here’s the step-by-step process you should follow. 

Mulch as much area around the tree as you can – it’s best to mulch to the outermost edge of your tree’s canopy, or as far as the branches stretch. This is the “drip line”. 

You should apply 2 to 4 inches of organic tree mulch around the tree – any more than that can actually harm the tree’s root system. If your mulch is finely shredded or double-shredded, you’ll only want to apply 1 to 2 inches (these types of mulch allow less oxygen to the roots). 

Related: How to Properly Mulch Around Your Trees

Keep mulch away from the trunk of the tree. You want the root flare – or where the trunk meets the soil – to show. Mulch around the trunk (volcano mulching) can harm the tree. Over-mulching prevents oxygen and water from making it to the root system, which can kill your tree. It can also cause disease, fungus, inner bark death, and promote rodents and insects. Too much tree mulch can further trap heat and make the roots of the tree too warm, which can lead to tree death. 

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when putting mulch around trees: 

  • Before you add more mulch, check the depth of the existing mulch. You may need to remove some of the old mulch before adding a fresh layer. 
  • If your mulch looks unappealing, try running a rake through it to bring up fresh layers before adding more. 

Let Hometown Help With Your Tree Mulch Today 

Need assistance choosing or applying tree mulch? Contact Hometown Tree Experts today