February 24, 2020 /
Jona Elwell

Mulch Tips & Tricks

We originally published this in 2011, but with the warmer temps this year we are seeing a lot of “springing” of yards, school and neighborhoods! If you are planting new trees or just getting your space ready for spring, be sure to use these tips: 

Mulch seems like an aesthetic afterthought, but it is a crucial part of tree care and an issue of surprisingly growing concern for all tree care-takers.

When applied properly, mulch can greatly benefit your trees by:

  • Controlling weeds and grass
  • Maintaining moisture in the soil and keeping your tree hydrated
  • Protecting the roots and trunk from mowers and other lawn maintenance tools

Unfortunately, poor mulching techniques – namely the “volcano” – have recently been popping up all over the District. Improper mulching techniques can lead to rotted roots, dead bark tissue, insect problems and imbalances in the soil’s pH levels.

Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind when mulching your tree:

  • Use organic mulch. While inorganic mulch is sometimes useful for soil protection, organic materials are best when mulching trees. Shredded bark, leaf compost, and composted wood chips all work well.
  • Remember the 3-3-3 Rule. Create a ring of mulch around your tree, 3 inches deep in a 3-foot radius from the trunk, making sure to leave a 3-inch space right around the tree trunk.
  • Avoid volcanoes. Don’t pile the mulch against the trunk of your tree. When you’re finished, the mulch should look more like a doughnut than a volcano.