Mulching a newly planted tree is a must. What does mulching do? Several very important things. It helps retain moisture. It keeps mower decks and weed whips away from the tender bark of a tree (one of the biggest causes of death in young trees) and it prevents competition from weeds and grass.
A tree is an investment. Whether you can afford a really large tree – or a more modest tree – to you it is an investment. By properly mulching the tree, you are taking one step into the long term viability and success of your new tree.
I drove down one of the streets in Northfield where there was new commercial development taking place. The developer had installed several boulevard trees and they had been “volcano” mulched. A no-no in the mulching your tree world. Volcano mulch is where the mulch is highest around the trunk of the tree – usually 4 to 5 inches up the trunk and goes down to the ground around the tree – kind of like making the tree the lava in this volcano example.
Volcano mulching can seriously damage the bark of young trees. That bark is super thin and when there is several inches of mulch around the base of the tree – it is the perfect habitat for insect development and mice to hide, and it holds moisture all around the trunk which could lead to rotting of the trunk.
Proper mulching is where there is little to no mulch around the base of the tree and then tapering up to about 3″- 4″ high out to where you began to dig your hole. This enables all rain and watering water to congregate right over the root ball of the tree which is so critical in the first few months in the life of a newly planted tree. After the first year, you can level it off a little so it isn’t quite so pronounced.
We’ll be touching a little more on watering and winter protection for your trees in future blogs – but if you have “volcano” mulched your newly planted tree – re-do the mulching for the health of the tree.