Why Keep Mulch Away From Tree Trunks?

Why keep mulch away from tree trunks? This question often confuses many new gardeners who learned that mulching is good. In this article, Dos Amigos Tree Experts, your reliable mulching company in Alexandria, VA, explains more about the dangers of over-mulching

Should You Apply Mulch or Not? 

Mulching has several benefits for your trees when you use it correctly. These include: 

  • Helping the soil to retain moisture 
  • Regulating soil temperature to protect the root system
  • Breaking down and releasing nutrients into the soil 
  • Smothering weeds and keeping them under control 
  • Protecting the roots from damage due to lawnmowers 
  • Helping to prevent soil compaction 
  • Providing a barrier that stops the soil from eroding 
  • The right type of mulch repels bugs

Why Be Careful With Mulch? 

So why keep mulch away from tree trunks? Excess mulch can prove damaging to your trees. While there are many benefits, misusing mulch can cause more harm than good. Here’s why to keep mulch away from tree trunks and why you need to be careful of incorrect mulching techniques: 

  • Excess mulch can suffocate the roots by preventing oxygen from filtering into the soil. 
  • Too much mulch negatively impacts soil moisture by soaking up too much rainwater. 
  • The rotting organic matter can, if it’s too close to the tree trunks, lead to wood decay and rot. 
  • Using the wrong type of mulch can lead to an infestation of insects. For example, wood chips can attract wood-boring insects. The same is true for diseases if the mulch is from a diseased tree, for example. 
  • If the mulch is too thick, it can become home to pests like rodents. 

How to Use Mulch Properly

When people mulch a tree, they often pile it up around the trunk so that it looks something like a volcano. This is dangerous because it keeps the trunk moist, increasing the risk of rotting or fungi infection. 

Instead, you should spread the mulch, starting about a foot away from the trunk. Spread it out as far as the edge of the tree canopy for maximum protection. Spread the organic matter in an even layer of no more than two or three inches. When you’re done, it should look like an upside-down doughnut rather than a volcano, with the tree in the center. 

Don’t Mulch Near a Building Foundation

Mulching too near your home’s foundation is a bad idea because the mulch provides a home for termites and other insects. It’s also unwise to keep the soil around your house moist as water degrades concrete. Finally, the moisture creates the ideal conditions for fungi and mold growth. 

It’s also unwise to plant trees close enough to your house that the mulch comes too close. You should have at least a six- to 12-inch barrier between the outside of the dripline and your building’s foundation. We recommend checking how big your trees will grow before planting them too close to your home. 

Choose the Right Mulch

When we think about mulch, we usually think of organic materials. However, there’s no need to stick to one type if it doesn’t work for you. Stones, gravel, rocks, and bricks can provide an attractive alternative that has many of the same benefits as regular mulch without the downside of attracting insects or fungi. 

Contact Us for Professional Help

Why keep mulch away from tree trunks? To protect your trees from pests, diseases, and more.

Now that you know why you should, you can more safely enjoy the many benefits of mulching. If you have any more questions or need help with this topic, contact Dos Amigos Tree Experts. 

Call us at (703) 300-6103 to schedule service in Alexandria, VA, and the surrounding areas. 

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We are a locally owned company based in Alexandria, Virginia, servicing all areas of Northern Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland.

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Alexandria, VA 22312
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(703) 300-6103


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