Do you find yourself spending hundreds of dollars for a professional to mulch around your tree? Worry no more! Here’s a complete list of tips on how to mulch a tree better than any gardener ever could!
5 Simple Tips on How to Mulch a Tree Like a Gardening Pro
1. Choose Good Mulch Material
It’s no secret that the ingredients you use for your mulch layer play a huge role in its overall quality and efficacy. So when selecting the materials, keep these factors in mind:
- Accessibility: One of the reasons you’re learning how to mulch a tree on your own is to save money, so as much as you want to use expensive, high-grade store-bought mulching ingredients, don’t. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting big bucks. Opt for easily accessible and available ingredients you can find around your garden or homestead instead.
- Nutrient Density: Improving overall soil health might be a job for fertilizer, but that doesn’t mean mulch layers don’t need nutrient-dense ingredients. One of the best soil health-boosting ingredients you can add to your mulch is animal manure. These are chockful of all kinds of vitamins and minerals. Just make sure to use organic ones from chemical-free and antibiotic-free livestock.
- Surface Texture: Opt for coarse-textured materials such as sawdust, grass clippings, hardwood chips, and shredded bark. Smoother options hold moisture for a longer time allowing them to evaporate before they even drip down to the soil
Some of the ingredients and materials that meet the abovementioned criteria include hardwood chips, animal manure, straw, shredded, leaves, pine needles, pine boughs, mushroom compost, and sewage sludge.
2. Don't Mound the Mulch too High
A quick Google search on mulching trees will almost certainly show you tips on how to mound your mulch layer into a volcano-shaped layer. This a very common mistake many beginners commit.
Firstly, mounded mulch layers retain too much moisture. This increases the risk of your trees developing all kinds of infections and diseases. Note that one infected plant is all you need to ruin a beautiful backyard.
Secondly, since mounded layers retain too much moisture, they actually attract pests and insects rather than repel them. Combine these with the risk of possible tree infections and you can count on your plant to die within the next year or so.
Lastly, volcano-shaped mulch layers look dumb. No gardening veteran is actually impressed by these sandcastle-like hills of sawdust, manure, and clippings.
So instead of shaping them into a volcano, opt to spread them evenly around the tree. Keep the mulch layer around two to four inches deep for best results.
3. Position the Mulch Layer Properly
Where do you place the mulch layer? Keep in mind that placing it either too near or far from the actual plant will negatively affect its efficacy. It has to be at the right distance to prevent weeds from growing, pests from swarming, and infections from spreading.
First, create a donut hole encircling the base of the tree. Make sure the mulch does not lean against the trunk. Otherwise, it won’t get enough air.
Next, spread the layer evenly around the tree. The ring of mulch can span around three to six feet wide in diameter. Some gardeners even opt to extend the ring as far outside as the tree’s dripline.
Finally, even out the layer. It should be at around two to four inches deep.
Dripline Meaning: The most outward and furthest point in a tree’s canopy circumference.
4. Understand Why You Need to Mulch
Understanding the purpose behind mulching will help you get an even better grasp of how to mulch a tree properly. Some reasons why gardeners mulch include:
- Keeping Soil Moist: The number one purpose of mulch is to keep the soil around your plants damp and moist at all times. It shields the soil from direct sunlight while insulating the ground at the same time to prevent evaporation.
- Driving Away Pests: Organic mulch ingredients attract all kinds of pests because of their high nutrient density. You can use all-natural pesticides, but unless you resolve the root cause of the issue, these pests will just keep coming back. What you can do instead is to mix in some cypress and cedarwood.
- Keeping Weed Growth at Bay: You can control weed growth to a certain degree by creating a layer of mulch around your plants. Remember: weeds can’t grow on mulch.
- Preventing Soil Erosion: You can keep your soil safe against water runoff, foot traffic, and strong winds by mulching on your garden. Mulch keeps the soil intact and protects its overall stability.
5. Familiarize Yourself With the Dangers of Improper Mulching
Mulching is a great way to keep your plants and trees healthy all year round. During the winter, they’ll keep your soil warm to promote proper plant health and prevent frostbites. Meanwhile, they’ll keep the ground moist in the summer.
However, you can only enjoy these benefits if you mulch properly. Laying down a layer of mulch improperly will only lead to negative results such as:
- Unwanted Weed Growth: Treat your mulch ingredients properly to ensure there aren’t any weed seeds in there.
- Heat Stroke: A super thick layer of mulch might cause your plants to overheat, especially during the summer. To remedy this, maintain a two-inch layer of mulch and don’t forget to water the plants.
- Rotted Root Collar: One of the many reasons you should not mound mulch is it can cause your root collar to rot. Generally, strive to distance the edge of the mulch ring from the base of the tree.
Are you still having trouble figuring out how to mulch a tree properly? Check out this helpful guide by Grass Daddy:
Learning how to mulch a tree properly will help you save hundreds of dollars in tree maintenance. Professional tree care services can get pretty expensive after all — especially if you have multiple plants and a big garden.
Generally, mulch layers are low maintenance, so you’ll only have to replenish your mulch once or twice a year. Just make sure the layer is thick and fresh at the start of winter. This is a very crucial time when the soil and plants rely heavily on mulch for warmth.
What do you think is the proper way how to mulch a tree? Share your tips with us in the comments section below!
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