Spring Mulching: Tips for a Beautiful Yard

For many of our friends and families, mulching is a seasonal ritual that signals the beginning of spring and the return of blossoming flowers, trees and plants.

Proper mulching creates a natural area under the tree to stimulate root growth and improve plant health allowing the tree’s root system to stay moist and put elements back into the soil. It also reduces soil compaction.

A common mistake is piling mulch against the trunk of a tree, creating a “mulch volcano”. Tree growth flourishes when mulch is spread wider, not deeper. If mulch is piled against stems or tree trunks, pull it back several inches so that the base of the trunk and root crown are exposed.

Tips for mulching your yard:

  • Check the depth of existing mulch. Do not add more mulch if a sufficient approximately 2-4”, is in place. Then, rake the old mulch to improve appearance and break-up matted layers
  • Examine younger trees and expand mulch ring to at least the outer most leaves or needles
  • When planting new trees or shrubs close together, maintain a larger ring to simulate natural wooden environments

What makes good mulch?

  • Coarsely chopped materials – we do not recommend using bark mulch for plant health. It is usually very fine, breaks down very slowly, does not replenish the soil with essential elements, and reduces soil moisture.
  • Plenty of organics, such as leaves, barks, twigs, and wood
  • Fast-decomposing materials to replenish the soil

Excerpts from Proper Mulching Techniques © 1995, 2004 International Society of Arboriculture