M is for mulch

As spring unfolds, our thoughts turn toward planting our gardens and maybe planting a few trees. We want our gardens to look their very best because a colorful garden is one of the keys to happiness. And one of the ways to make gardens look great while also suppressing excessive weed growth is to use mulch.

Mulch is great because, not only does it suppress excessive weed growth, it also keeps moisture in the soil so you don’t have to feel like you need to water your garden twice a day. Well, of course, there are times when you do need to water your garden twice a day. Those times would be times when there is insufficient rainfall or it’s very hot or a combination of the two. You want to make sure, though, that you don’t water during the hottest part of the day! 

But I digress. This post is about mulch, not water! So… mulch looks pretty and it makes the flower bed look nice and neat. When I am taking care of a flower bed and I add mulch to it, I feel as if I have finished the job nicely and have accomplished a makeover for the garden. We all like to have a nice pampering and a makeover so it’s great if the garden gets that pampering and makeover, too! I see no down side in adding a nice coat of mulch to a flower garden.

This is an example of volcano
mulching. Notice how the
mulch is mounded very
high against the
tree trunk.

But trees. Hmmm. It is fine to mulch around the tree. Unfortunately, many landscapers and homeowners make a mistake when mulching. They mound the mulch around the tree trunk. Apparently, it is supposed to be a look. This is called “volcano mulching.” Not only is it not a lovely sight, it is also bad for the tree. It is very bad for newly planted trees and it is also bad for established trees. Let me offer you an analogy. Let’s say that you are wearing a turtleneck sweater. You want to create an interesting fashion statement so you cover your mouth and nose with the turtleneck sweater. Maybe your eyes, too. Well, that would be rather uncomfortable and it would make breathing a challenge! It’s the same way with trees. The root collar of the tree must be visible. That helps the tree breathe better, too. And another reason for not volcano mulching is that, when you water your tree (and new trees need massive amounts of water to become established), the mulch is actually drawing the water away from the tree roots.

new tree, with nothing
covering its trunk. This
is a good way to plant a tree.

So… what is a good way to mulch around a tree? Well, instead of thinking of a mound, think of a donut. The donut is mulch arranged in a circle around the tree trunk. It doesn’t touch the tree trunk so that the root collar can be visible. And, with a circle of mulch around a tree, the water will be steered toward the tree roots. This should help your new tree thrive and grow tall and strong and, eventually, provide you with good shade.

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

Happy gardening! And happy spring!

5 thoughts on “M is for mulch”

  1. Yes, volcano mulching is bad for a number of reasons. And now I'm seeing dyed mulch in garden stores, and even dye you can apply to redye your mulch. Terrible! Another pet peeve is pruning at the wrong time, or pruning too much. (Maybe you can use P for pruning for your P post. Only kidding!)

  2. Cerebrations.biz

    I haven't mulched anything in years. Even before I left my 'big' house. But, I always watered my grounds at dawn and dusk.

  3. I have never mulched. Nor had I heard of volcano mulching. But I can see that it wouldn't be a good thing.

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