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Mulch Around Trees for Weed Control

by Marcia Passos Duffy, All About Lawns Columnist

Mulching around trees is ideal for not only weed control, but for retaining moisture, inhibiting certain plant diseases, moderating soil temperatures, building organic matter, and keeping lawnmowers and weed-wackers from damaging trees.

However, did you know that if you mulch incorrectly you can damage your trees through insect infestation, fungus growth, and more? Here's how to mulch the right way.

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How to Mulch Correctly for Weed Control

  • Avoid "volcanoes." The biggest mistake homeowners make when applying mulch around trees is creating a mulch "volcano"--piling it high around the trunk's base, according to Mississippi State University's extension service. This can cause bark rot and encourage insect and fungus problems. It also traps moisture around the tree trunk, which can lead to decay and even death of the tree.
  • Stay away from artificial mulch. Stick to natural mulches; bright orange mulches are chemically treated. Never use plastic mulches or even porous landscape fabric under trees--while they are useful for weed control, artificial mulches can kill the roots of the tree by preventing oxygen and water absorption.
  • Expand the mulching with age of tree. As the tree grows older, the mulched area should expand with it. On older trees, a mulched area with a diameter of 12 feet is effective and attractive, and it helps weed control underneath the tree.
  • Don't add too much mulch. If you already have mulch under a tree, check the depth to make sure it's under four inches; resist adding more if there's already enough. If you want to freshen up the look of old mulch, simply rake it and break up matted sections. You can also spray the mulch with a water-soluble vegetable dye to rejuvenate it. If mulch is piled against stems or tree trunks, pull it back several inches so the base of the trunk and the root crown are exposed.

For more helpful mulching advice, check out the tips offered by Trees Are Good.



About the Author
Marcia Passos Duffy is a freelance writer and a member of the Garden Writers Association. She is a frequent contributor to Turf Magazine and Growing Magazine. Visit her site at www.backporchpublishing.com

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