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Jul 16, 2011 07:09 PM

Mounding mulch around trees

Years ago I never saw a tree mounded with mulch around the bottom trunk. It was my understanding that when planting a tree (or even a shrub) one should leave about a 6" space below the tree to make sure that when watering the tree, that there would be a basin where the water could collect.

What is the reason for mounding up to a foot high or more of mulch around a new tree trunk for up to perhaps 5-10 years.

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  1. A recent local garden writer wrote that this is very harmful to trees. He called them mulch volcanos. I believe it also provides nice living space for critters who then eat the bark. Many years ago my parents bought a new house in a brand new sub-division. The builder re-graded the yard so less of the foundation showed. All the trees started dying. My parents were told to make a well around each tree.

    1. Trees and shrubs should be mulched wide but not deep, usually 3 inches is ideal. Do not bank the mulch against the trunk. Pull it back several inches. This prevents the attack of the weed wacker or the dreaded lawn mower blight... Seriously, there are many horticultural benefits from proper mulching.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        Mulching against the trunk also promotes bark rotting, which can provide entry for insects and micro organisms and in extreme cases prevent water and nutrients from reaching the leaves. Proper mulching is very beneficial. Volcano mulching can kill a tree slowly.

        The reason for volcano mulching is ignorance combined with monkey see monkey do mentality

        1. re: Eldon Kreider

          Thanks everyone for the admonitions. No volcano mulching here.

      2. Yes to everyone's advice. Also I found these mulch mats at Lowes recently and put them around a few trees. At first it looks pretty artificial but after a couple of months the edges soften and it looks quite natural. They also make big mats and edging material. Oh, and mowing is a total breeze.

        1 Reply
        1. re: lynncameron

          i cracked up with this mat: http://henta-corporation.amazonwebsto...

          you've gotta think "only in texas!" LOL

          1. Planting a tree at the incorrect depth is a common error by homeowners and landscapers alike. Too much mulch will compound the problem. No volcanoes, but rather a saucer to hold water, with nothing touching the trunk.