White tree trunk base with mulch and green grass

The Benefits of Mulching Around Trees

Mulching around trees will not only look good in your front yard landscape, but will also improve the soil’s moisture retention capacity. Mulching your trees and shrubs also reduces the amount of soil erosion, keeps the soil cool, and provides additional nutrients for healthy plants. And it minimizes potential damage to your tree from mowers and weed trimmers.

When you do mulch around your trees, you should be aware of the frequency at which the mulch needs to be applied. Do not let mulch become too thin and wash away the nutrients that your small trees need.

Important: Avoid Creating Mulch Volcanos

A very important mulching practice for this application is to remember that you mustn’t mound your mulch up.  You don’t need any more than two to four inches of mulch spread evenly around the base of the tree. One often sees mulch piled high near a tree’s trunk forming a “mulch volcano”. See to it that your mulch is kept a few inches away from the trunk of the tree. 

Creating mounds is a terrible practice that can kill trees. Remember, too much mulch around trees will rob them of oxygen and make them susceptible to insects, decay, and leaf spot fungus. Bookmark this video for an excellent resource regarding mulching around trees.

Types of Mulch to Use

There are many options available on the market for mulching around trees. You can make your own mulch with leftovers from your home or garden or you can buy bags or bulk mulch from a local dealer. The following are some of the more popular options.

Organic Mulch

When we talk about mulching around trees, there are several types of mulches to choose from. And most homeowners like the organic mulching types which are made from natural materials like bark, grass clippings, and twigs. These materials get processed to make a good, healthy organic material that’s great to mulch with. 

Furthermore, this kind of mulching around trees helps to preserve the soil and retain the moisture level within the soil. Additionally, mulching with organic matter will greatly reduce weed growth near the tree base. This prevents weeds from leeching from the important nutrients your trees need.

Homemade Organic Options

If you want to create a more natural effect when mulching your trees, then you can try applying a thin layer of organic matter on the surface you are planning to mulch. Organic matter like straw or cardboard can provide good source materials. 

Cardboard is made from paper, so it originates from a natural organic source–trees. Thus, being an organic compound, as it decomposes it will release carbon into the ground. It’s also a good idea to moisten the cardboard and then layer other organic material or mulch on top of it. 

Likewise, straw can be shredded to make it easier to spread across the surface, and it will break down more quickly. You can also use shredded leaves or grass clippings.

Wood Chips

Another excellent method of mulching is to use wood chips. Wood chips are ideal when mulching your trees because they are soft and they decompose slowly. This process also helps keep soil moist, which is important because you want healthy plant growth. Wood chips can also be used on flower beds or in any open space around the outside of your home.

Wood chips mulch with frost on them, and trees in the background
Wood chips are an excellent natural source of organic mulch material.

Winter Mulch

Another mulching strategy is to apply winter mulch. Winter mulch helps retain heat within the soil for longer periods of time. This can be very effective as it helps to retain moisture and it helps protect the roots against freezing.

If you apply layers of winter mulch around your trees, they will remain warm for a few more months which can help stabilize temperatures. Thus, it protects them from sudden temperature changes that can result in damage during the winter season. 

Materials that work well for winter mulch can include pine needles, straw, branches, wood shavings, sawdust, paper, cardboard, and even animal waste. This type of mulching around trees is ideal for homeowners who wish to have more control over their plant life during the colder months of the year.

Heartland Landscape Group is a full-service landscape company in Osage Beach, MO. When you contract us, we do our best to give you best-in-class customer service and workmanship. We have served the Lake of the Ozarks area for decades.

Visit our website, give us a call, and follow us on Facebook for more information.

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