Mulch Harms Your Trees: See How

One of the best things that you can put in your yard is a layer of mulch. This layer helps to keep your trees healthy, your flowers beautiful, and minimizes the number of weeds that grow up around your trees. Mulch helps in many different ways.

However, there are some problems with mulch if you aren’t careful.

Whether you choose natural mulch, rubber mulch, or some combination that you’ve made yourself, there are so many options. If you aren’t careful about the type of mulch that you choose or the way that you lay the mulch, you may be doing more damage than you are doing good.

Here are some tips:

Make Sure the Oxygen Supply is Good

  • Your roots require oxygen in order to survive
  • Tree development is stunted by a lack of oxygen
  • Ultimately, suffocation could take place

All plants, including trees, need oxygen to endure. This is because without access to clean oxygen, the trees cannot carry out something called aerobic respiration nor can it carry out photosynthesis. This procedure uses water, co2, as well as the sun’s power to generate oxygen. This occurs throughout the tree, however not in the roots, according to USCB Science Line.

Mulch can add much needed oxygen near the roots of the tree. Its shape naturally allows for oxygen to stay and move around the roots of the tree. However, you have to be careful to move the mulch around when there is any settling that takes place. If you aren’t careful, or you use rubber mulch, it can actually get compacted down and reduce the amount of oxygen. Eventually, this will kill your tree.

Be Careful About How Close the Soil Gets to the Trunk

  • Accumulates moisture around the trunk of the tree
  • Triggers tree bark to decay and soften
  • Spreads diseases quickly

On the other hand, too much soil near the tree can be a bad thing. Among the most significant reasons that individuals get mulch rings or lay mulch of their own is to make their yards look much more uniform and beautiful, but what is taking place under those rings? Any water that gets trapped under there will cook and can create too much moisture.

Soil isn’t always great for your trees – especially when it is packed around the base. SFGate explains why: “Soil added around a tree reduces the amount of oxygen available to the roots and slows the rate of gas exchange in and around the roots. There may be less moisture and nutrients available to the roots or too much moisture may remain around the tree’s roots. Inadequate oxygen reaching the roots or microorganisms in the soil around the roots can lead to an accumulation of chemicals that can injure tree roots. The tree’s bark may decay where soil is newly in contact with it. Damage or injury to the tree because of the added soil may not become apparent for several months or years and generally appears as a slow decline followed by death.”

Girdling Can Occur

  • Results in excessive dieback
  • Eventually results in scorch
  • Makes tree at risk to other diseases

When a tree is girdled, there is something wrapped tightly around the trunk of it. When you mulch, sometimes the girdling isn’t easy to see and it might make it harder for you to see it and treat it. Sometimes, those rubber mulch mats can actually be the thing girdling the tree.  Girdling is bad because it prohibits the transfer of nutrients and water to the rest of the tree.

Eventually, your tree will begin to die and sometimes, it is very difficult to fix. Normally, the tree’s trunk will start to flare out near the root level, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. They say that,The threat depends on the size of the root and the amount of the tree’s circumference affected. It is almost impossible to predict if a developing girdling root will cause problems for a tree. However, if a tree has girdling roots it is more likely to have problems than one without them.”

There are so many other options out there for mulching, including rubber compost mats, natural mulch, and semi-natural mulching that will help your tree look lovely – but for how long? While this is an easy option in the short term, it isn’t really going to be the best option for you in the long-term. You are only going to have various other issues down the line– troubles that will certainly need far more work compared to an easy job like spreading out all-natural compost around your tree.

Keep in mind that a few of these problems could occur with natural mulch as well, though they aren’t as common. You will have a better chance at success with natural mulch. You need to take care when you spread out mulch and you should always monitor your tree for any type of problems that you see for a few months after mulching.

Tree care isn’t difficult, nor is taking care of a tree. Still, this isn’t something that you want to do all by yourself consulting with a professional about specific tree care techniques. For everyday maintenance like mulching around a tree, and maybe even planting the tree, you can take a great deal of it into your own hands for the most part. Still, for bigger or more difficult jobs that require a professional touch or tools, you may wish to contact a professional. If you aren’t sure what sort of mulch you want in your lawn, you may want to talk to a professional as well. There are many different options out there.

If you are looking for a tree care professional in Richmond, give Ridgeline Tree Service a call today at (804) 378-2900. We will help you to better understand your trees and how to handle any planting issues that might pop up.

Header photo courtesy of Sam on Flickr!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.