Monday, September 23, 2013

What NOT To Do To Your TREES -- Tree Care 101: Lesson in Mulching

Mulch.  What a great word.  Say it:  Mulch.

Basically, mulch is tree parts. I know a lot of people go to Lowe's and buy the stuff by the bag, but honestly, anything that falls off a trees (twigs, leaves, pine straw, pieces of bark) makes great mulch.

Mulch is good stuff.  Trees love it.  I love it.  The world -- obviously-- loves it, by the way they seem to pile it on.  
But there is a right and wrong way to go about mulching your trees. 
Here is the DON'T.

See how this mulch is piled up AGAINST THE TRUNK -- this is BAD.  The trunk is buried!!!

Here's where I dug it out -- you can see the trunk is ROTTING!

Here is the tree again, a little further out -- big pile of mulch AGAINST THE TRUNK = BAD
Now this tree is quite glorious, don't you agree?  So, why, why, why would someone put it at risk?

Because when you weaken the structure of the trunk, you put the tree at risk of dying, or worse, having a weak trunk, and then it could fall and really hurt something or someone!

Let's save our trees, please!

Here's what mulch is good for:
1.  Replenishing nutrients in the soil
2.  Keeping the soil moist
3.  Preventing soil erosion
(Those are the ultra-uber-basics, the Ground Guys have written it out, shortly and sweetly here)

Because mulch is so good at keeping moisture in, it's exactly why it should NOT go up against a trunk. The trunk does not need the extra moisture!

Think of it like this:
Mulch, mulch is good for the DIRT
When it touches a tree, it will HURT.

(I just made that up -- I'll try to work on it for you.)

The proper way to put mulch around a tree is to do just that:  put mulch AROUND a tree.  A half-foot to a foot away from the trunk should suffice, and it will still ensure that the soil is getting what it that the tree gets what it needs.


P.S.  If feeling altruistic one day, go help the improperly-mulched trees in your urban environment by pushing the soil a foot or so back from the trunk -- make a day out of it, and see how good you'll feel!  It's as important to CARE for a tree as it is to PLANT one.

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