Mulching

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By: Scott Eckert, County Extension Agent, Horticulture

Have you ever  accidentally “weed whipped” a young tree with a string
trimmer?  One cure for this is mulching.  Aside from watering, few other
horticultural practices can ensure the survival and growth of your new
tree like mulching. Newly planted trees benefit from mulching, especially
during the first years of establishment. Besides preserving moisture and
moderating soil temperature, mulching controls competing weed growth
(including turf).

As important, mulch acts as a barrier to keep lawnmowers and string trimmers away from the tree trunk – a leading cause of damage to landscape trees. Mulch can be made of many products, but bark chips, wood chips, and compost are the most common. Mulch should be 2 to 4 inches deep in a 2-foot radius around the tree. Mulch should NOT touch the trunk.  Do not create a “mulch volcano” around the trunk.  Excess and high mulch around the trunk increases the moisture level around the lower part of the trunk that can lead to crown rot and tree death.   A moist
environment around the trunk encourages harmful insects and disease as
well.

There are many, many benefits to mulching trees.

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