What materials are the BEST mulches for trees?
· Bark chunks or shredded bark that is at least 3/8 inch in size. Pine bark will last longer than hardwood bark.
· Pine needles
· One-year old wood chips.
· Leaves that were shredded and composted for at least three months.
What are the WORST mulches for trees?
· Fresh grass clippings or fresh wood chips.
· Any fresh organic mulch.
· Any organic mulch that smells bad.
· Peat moss or sawdust.
· Pebbles, rocks, or cobble stones.
· Bricks or pavement or black plastic.
· Ground -up rubber tires.
What good does proper mulching do for trees?
· Mulch helps to prevent soil compaction that suffocates a tree’s roots.
· Mulch helps add organic matter to the soil as it gradually breaks down, thus acting like a slowly released, natural fertilizer for the tree.
· Mulch helps prevent the soil from washing away. Soil erosion is very harmful to the tree’s exposed roots. Soil erosion not only stresses the tree but can increase the chance of blow down in a storm or on a windy day.
· Mulch helps the soil to hold water for the tree’s roots.
· Mulch helps reduce the damage from drought and from pests.
· Mulch helps to keep lawn mowers and string trimmers away from the bark. Damaged bark is an open wound that can be infected by fungus and bacteria known to kill trees. If the tree’s green tissues located just inside the bark are cut, then the water from the roots cannot get carried up to the leaves and food from the leaves cannot get carried down the roots.
· Mulch helps to moderate soil temperatures. It behaves like an insulating blanket. It helps keep soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. This is much less stressful for the tree roots.
· Mulch helps reduce weeds and grasses around trees. Weeds and grasses will compete with the tree’s roots for water and for nutrients.
What about termites?
Mulch beds should be kept at least 6 inches away from building foundations, the lowest course of siding, and any wooden parts of a building. Termite kings and queens only live in soil, so chances of bringing them home in mulch are slim. However, that 6-inch barrier strip will not be easy for termites to bridge with their mud tubes.
What do I need to know to mulch trees the right way?
· Start 6 inches from the tree trunk at ground level and mulch outward to the edge of the dripline to maximum depth of 2 inches to 4 inches.
· Keep a 2-inch to 4-inch layer around, but not touching the base of the tree. Mulch as much of the area under the tree as possible with out having mulch touch the trunk.
· Never pile-up a cone of mulch around the tree trunk! Mice, insects, and fungus may hide next to the trunk and feed parts of the tree. The cone-shaped mulch piles and thick layers of mulch also prevent water from reaching a tree’s roots. Tree roots that grow up into the cone of mulch on top of the soil cannot be healthy.
· One layer of woven Landscape Fabric may be used under mulch in heavy weed areas. Never use plastic sheets under the mulch. Plastic sheets block the passage of air and water and stunt root growth.
· Every spring or every other spring, rake or remove any hard crust and add only enough new mulch to maintain a 2-inch to 4-inch layer. Never build up layers of mulch by adding new mulch on top of the old mulch around the tree.
Who can help your trees?
If your tree is trapped in a mulch volcano, please don’t remove the entire volcano all at once! Removal of a mulch volcano all at once might further damage your already stressed tree. We recommend that you first seek advice of a NJ CERTIFIED TREE EXPERT like us.