When it comes to landscaping your yard, mulch is critical for the design process. As Jennifer Miree Cope details, mulch can add borders and details to your yard, significantly improving the appeal. Mulch can also prevent weeds and promote healthy plant growth.
One common but unfortunate practice is the placement of “mulch volcanoes” around trees. A mulch volcano is an elevated mound of mulch around the tree’s base. While this can create a visually appealing look, it is terrible for the tree’s health for several reasons.
This article explains why you shouldn’t build mulch volcanoes around your trees and explores the right way to mulch a young tree.
- Improper Root Formation
Tree roots are perhaps an essential part of a young tree’s development. When a tree does not develop healthy roots, it is nearly impossible to save it, and more than likely, the tree will die and need to be removed.
The best thing you can do for a young tree is to ensure that it has room to develop healthy roots. A tree’s roots grow in a flat pattern outward, so the mulch surrounding it should follow this pattern.
Mulch volcanoes can encourage tree root growth in the wrong areas, and prevent tree roots from growing outward, which is critical to the tree’s health.
- Retains Too Much Moisture
Trees are resilient plants, but they can be sensitive to water levels and moisture. Lack of sunlight and excess moisture are common causes of tree death. The tree’s trunk is especially sensitive to excessive moisture.
While mulch around a tree can help it retain the moisture it needs to grow, too much mulch can result in too much water. When you build a mulch volcano around a tree, condensation builds up around the tree’s base, as it cannot escape the mulch.
- Promotes Fungal Growth
Trees, especially young trees, are susceptible to fungus. For this reason, you should take action to avoid the development of fungi in your yard at all costs. Unfortunately, mulch volcanoes are breeding grounds for fungus.
The mulch pile tends to build up moisture, precisely the type of environment fungus thrives in. Once the fungus develops and makes its way to the base of your young tree, it is unlikely that the tree will be able to recover and thrive.
The Right Way to Mulch a Young Tree
According to Jennifer Miree Cope, the best way to mulch a young tree is to create a flat surface around the tree’s base. However, if you want the volcano look, you can achieve this look by first creating a small mound of dirt before you plant the tree. This setup will allow the tree to sit slightly elevated without being suffocated by surrounding mulch.
Who Is Jennifer Miree Cope?
Jennifer Miree Cope graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1985 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. Renowned for her passion and talent as a landscape designer, Jennifer’s associates often praise her for being organized and thorough. When not hiking in the mountains of North Carolina, attending University of Alabama sporting events, or exercising, Jennifer is often volunteering with one of the many charitable endeavors supported by Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama: STAIR tutoring, Holiday House, or the Children’s Fresh Air Farm.