Thursday, March 13, 2014

There are Right and Wrong Ways to Mulch a Tree

Contact: Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist
Headquartered in Greene County
Tel: (417) 881-8909

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Mulching the trees in our landscapes is a common practice, with many benefits.  Just remember, there is right way and a wrong way to mulch trees according to Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“One of the most common mistakes is arranging the mulch ring around the tree in the shape of a volcano instead of a doughnut,” said Byers. “Mulching against the tree trunk can lead to trunk problems, disease problems, habitat for rodents, and excessive soil moisture and root rots.”

Mulching involves placing materials on the soil to improve growing conditions and ease maintenance.

The benefits of mulching are numerous: helps maintain soil moisture, helps control weeds, keeps lawn mowers and string trimmers at bay, easier maintenance, appearance and improves the soil.

A number of things can be used for mulch. Most commonly used are bark chips, wood chips, composts and pine needles.

The best way to mulch is using a two to four inch layer of mulch. Then be sure to mulch a large area.

“When it comes to mulching trees, the larger the better,” said Byers. “You might even consider mulching to the drip line of the tree.”

For more information on this and other lawn and garden questions, call the University of Missouri Master Gardener Helpline at the Greene County Extension Center, (417) 881-8909.

For 100 years, MU Extension has engaged Missourians in relevant programs based on University of Missouri research. The year 2014 marks the centennial of the Smith-Lever Act, which formalized the Cooperative Agricultural Extension Service, a national network whose purpose is to extend university-based knowledge beyond the campus.

University of Missouri Extension programs focus on the high-priority needs of Missourians. Each county extension center, with oversight by locally elected and appointed citizens, is your local link to practical education on almost anything. More information on this topic is available online at


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