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Assistance in Care and Planting

How To Mulch Trees

Wood Chips are good mulch. Bark is ok and it may look better. (The coarse is better than fine, which seems to be the only grade available now.) One or two inches deep is plenty. Keep it away from the tree trunk an inch or two. Do not mound it up beautifully around the trunk! The bark on a tree stem is supposed to be exposed to air, and mulch piled onto it can provide a perfect environment for fungus to invade any break in the bark -even a small one made by an insect. Many trees are lost because of rotting at the base. It will take years, but it happens. Using only 1 or 2 inches of mulch is important, because tree roots will invade deeper mulch instead of remaining in the soil where they belong. Mulch dries out quickly and cannot sustain roots in dry weather, but a little mulch can protect the soil below from air drying. Clay soil can hold much more moisture than an equal volume of mulch, so keep the roots in the clay where they will be sustained in dry weather.

For the good of the tree, use the mulch to extend farther from the trunk rather than making a thick mat that only heavy rains can penetrate. A 2 inch layer of mulch 4 feet in diameter around a young tree will help keep grass and mowers away, and will benefit a greater amount of soil for root growth than a mound of mulch piled against the tree. LK

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