But to the laymen, it’s hard to tell when’s too much, what’s not enough, or just right. The old saying goes ‘too much of a good thing can be bad’ and that’s very much true even when it comes to things like mulch. Too much mulch can cause problems and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Again – we really want you to know how much we love mulch. It reduces weeds, maintains moisture and regulates temperature – all while improving the soil around your tree’s base. All of this is good.
But when you pile on too much mulch or go too high with it – it causes two significant problems:
- It can smother a tree’s roots. Roots crave air and when mulch deprives them of that precious oxygen, roots will peak upwards in an attempt to catch a breath. This causes them to do what we call ‘girdle’ or wrap around the trunk of a tree, essentially strangling it to death.
- Excess moisture – One of the best things about mulch is that it maintains moisture, but too much moisture can lead to a variety of problems and potential infections. One of those is that it increases the likelihood of wood decay and other wood-decaying diseases. This can cause the bark to deteriorate, which leads to an unstable foundation and also leaves the trunk wide open to infections and insect infestations. Worst of all, it can cause an unstable foundation which can be extremely dangerous as the tree begins to grow.
So what you want to do is make sure you’re using mulch the right way. Always keep a small gap (about six inches) between the mulch and the base of the tree and never stack the mulch too high.
Mulch is a special application that can do a lot of good if used correctly. If you’re unsure whether you’re doing things correctly, you can always call an arborist and they’ll show you exactly what you can do to make sure you’re using mulch as it was intended.