How to Properly Mulch a Tree


mulch a tree

Mulch your tree with ease

A newly planted, and established, tree benefits from a natural layer of mulch, but there is a right and a wrong way to do it. After you have planted several new trees and added landscaping around them, mulching becomes second nature. Still, every year I see seasoned gardeners and landscapers improperly mulching their trees.

Here is a quick and easy guide to help you properly mulch your tree and some tips on the types of mulch to use.

To begin, it is beneficial to your tree to add mulch for several reasons. Mulch provides the soil surrounding the tree with a natural barrier to the elements which can cause erosion, quick evaporation of the soil, and fungus. In addition to protection, natural mulch breaks down with time and provides the tree with nutrients that leech into the soil. Finally, the main reason landscapers add mulch is for cosmetic reasons- mulch looks good and keeps weeds to a minimum. Imagine a situation where you are re-decorating your yard, ordering something expensive like a cozy pool from pool companies and have un-mulched trees in yard. Yack!

It is important to know though, that the proper way to mulch your tree is based on more than looks. You might be doing more harm, than good, to your new tree if you do not take the time to learn how to apply mulch around your new tree. Mulch that is piled up immediately around the base of a tree suffocates the roots and keeps much needed water from reaching the roots as well.

Types of Mulch to Use

There are several different types of mulch that can be used around a tree, but the best are those that are natural. Natural mulches both protect and provide for the tree, which most unnatural mulches and even some types of wood chips cannot do. Natural mulches that you should try include shredded leaves, yard compost, shredded bark and composted wood chips.

How to Mulch a Tree

Measure a distance, six to twelve inches, away from the base of your tree. If you are mulching a new tree mark off the longer distance, if it is an established tree go with the shorter distance. A new tree has some growing to do and the circumference of the tree will continue to grow over the next few years, decreasing the space from the tree to the layer of mulch.

Beginning at the point you marked apply a thick layer of mulch outward that is at least two to three inches deep around the tree. Spread the mulch in an even layer around the entire base. Cover the entire area under the tree’s canopy so that there is enough ground for the tree’s roots to pull moisture from the soil.