Using Mulch to Protect Trees

Written by Brooke Tolman (last updated December 25, 2020)

Simply stated, mulch is a tree's best friend. It safeguards the tree when you cannot. Mulch acts as a sort of sun-block for the tree. It insulates the soil, helps preserve soil moisture, slows the process of evaporation, prevents lawn mower damage, and protects the roots from overheating. Not only does it help to keep your tree healthy but it makes your life easier. Hate to weed? Lay down mulch! With a nice thick layer of mulch you deprive the weed seeds of sunlight so they can't grow. Not only that but weeds need dirt to grow in, so when weed seeds fall to the ground around your tree, they won't be able to make it to the dirt underneath the mulch in order to grow.

Mulches come in all different types, each one with its strengths and weaknesses. Organic mulches nourish your trees by slowly decomposing. The best types of organic mulch are shredded bark, pine needles, straw, chopped leaves, and compost. When planting a tree, shredded or chipped bark will be your best choice. It doesn't break down as easily as most of the others, which means you won't have to remulch as often.

Mulching is a rather easy process for such a big reward. Here are the steps of how to mulch:

  1. Remove any grass or weeds in the area being mulched. If possible, do this early in the year before weeds get established, as this will save you weeding time later.
  2. Place some bark, leaves, or pine needles around the base of the tree. When mulching you don't want to cover the base of the tree. If the base of the tree is covered, it can retain too much water and cause the trunk to start rotting, so start your mulch about 3 inches away from the base of the tree.
  3. Pile mulch around the tree as far out as the roots go. Work a thin layer into the soil and then add a good 2-4 inches on top of that. The biggest mistake people make when mulching is not applying enough. Be generous with your mulch! Too little will allow sunlight to pass through and allow weeds to start growing.
  4. Make sure to water your tree generously. The mulch can't help to keep moisture in the roots if you aren't giving it any water. Make sure to water your tree at least every other day to maintain adequate moisture.

So get out there and mulch your trees. It not only protects your tree, but it's great for the environment and makes gardening less work for you.

Author Bio

Brooke Tolman

Brooke is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Exercise Science. She currently resides in Seattle where she works as a freelance data analyst and personal trainer. She hopes to spend her life camping and traveling the world. ...


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