The Importance of Mulching Newly Planted Trees
Many people are unaware of how important it is to mulch after planting new trees. Most tree roots grow outward, not down like most people think. In fact, around 90 percent of the roots are actually located in the top 12” to 18” of soil and these roots can reach outwards up to three times the tree’s height.
These are called feeder roots and they compete with the grass and other plants in the area for both water and oxygen, which are necessary for photosynthesis and growth. A mixture of leaves, compost and wood chips are a great way to keep your tree healthy. The mulch acts like a natural forest floor and keeps the soil that’s at the base of the tree nice and moist while adding organic matter as it is decomposing.
The bigger your circle of mulch around the base of the tree the better, but make sure that it is not more than 3” deep, so that your tree roots are still able to get oxygen. The mulch should also not touch the trunk as this could lead to the moisture building at the base of the trunk, which could cause problems.
Mulch is important to the health of your tree because it:
- Insulates the soil and helps to provide a buffer from both cold and heat.
- Retains water that helps to keep the roots moist.
- Reduces damage done by the lawn mower.
- Prevents soil compaction.
- Keeps weeds out to help prevent root competition.
The Steps to Add Mulch Around the Tree
- Remove the grass within a 3 to 10 foot reach depending on the size of your tree and how far out you plan to place the mulch.
- Pour your natural mulch 2 to 3 inches deep within the circle, you have created. You can use bark or wood chips.
- Make sure the mulch is not touching the trunk of the tree.