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Mulch — Your Tree’s Best Friend

Mulching is one of the most valuable things a homeowner can do for a tree’s health. Mulch conserves moisture and improves growing conditions. But if mulch is applied too deeply or the wrong material is used, it actually can harm trees and other plants. Check out these tips and you’ll be on your way to improving your tree’s health and appearance.

Proper Mulching

  • Check soil drainage in the area to be mulched. Determine if there are trees or plants that may be affected by the type of mulch. Most organic mulches work well in most landscape situations. Some plants may benefit from mulches such as pine needles or bark that acidify the soil.
  • Apply a 2 to 4 inch layer of much over well-drained soils. Use a thinner layer on poorly drained soils.
  • The wider the mulch ring, the greater the benefit. Mulch out to the edge of the tree’s drip line if possible.
  • Do not pile mulch against the tree trunk! Pull mulch back several inches from the trunk so the base and the root crown are exposed. The mulch ring shape should resemble a doughnut, not a volcano.
  • Organic mulches are preferred to inorganic materials. They should be well-aerated and composted. Inorganic mulches, such as decorative stone, lava rock, pulverized tires, and geotextile fabrics are useful in high traffic areas, but are not recommended for mulching around trees.

Benefits of Mulching

  • Helps maintain soil moisture! Evaporation and the need for watering is reduced
  • Protects the trunk and surface roots from mowers and string trimmers
  • Helps control weed and grass
  • Insulates the soil surface, keeping it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer
  • Makes lawn maintenance easier
  • Creates a well-cared-for appearance

Don’t Over-Mulch!
Over-mulching your tree or piling it against the trunk can create a lot of problems. Too much mulch can:

  • Promote excessive moisture and root rot
  • Cause inner bark tissue to die
  • Lead to insect and disease problems
  • Create habitat for rodents that chew bark and girdle the trunk
  • Cause imbalances in soil pH
  • Become a matted barrier that prevents the penetration of water and air.

Learn more about mulching and tree care at mdc.mo.gov/trees-plants.

Beyond Belief: Trees Work Fact or Fiction
Which one of the following statements is fiction and which are amazingly true? See if you can pick the liar out of the bunch. Hint: Only one is bogus. Really.

  1. The forest products industry contributed over 9 billion dollars to Missouri’s economy in the last year, which is more than the total net worth of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg combined.
  2. In one year, an acre of trees can absorb as much carbon as is produced by a car driven from Kansas City to Kennett and back ten times.
  3. The presence of street trees in a neighborhood increase the sale prices of houses by an average of $8,870.
  4. Your smartphone is comprised of 65 percent recycled wood products.

Answer (1-3 are true. 4, not so much.)

For information visit www.treeswork.org.

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