Much Mulch

Are you kidding?  Seeing a mound of mulch piled on a tree trunk conjures up images of a volcano with a tree sticking out of it.  Why does this happen?  Three reasons:

  1. If a little is good, more is better. Just like with adult beverages, potato chips, pop and buying clothes, excessive amounts are not better – instead, it leads to problems.
  2. Once a gardening concept is heard and understood, it becomes routine, not “as needed”. After 20 years of telling young children to buckle up their seatbelts before the car leaves the driveway, they finally get it.  Most of them remind the adults now.  And, after 20 years of telling people the virtues of mulching, the gardening public is finally getting it.
  3. It keeps the lawnmower away from the trunk. Actually, this has a grain of truth in it…but again, just a little is needed to remind a 14 year old mower operator to stop the machine 2 inches short of the trunk and not to ram into it.


The ideal mulch application is 2 inches thick, 2 inches away from the trunk of a tree or base of a shrub and extended as far into the landscape as is feasible.


John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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