Improving Your Tree’s Health with Mulch!

Improving Your Tree’s Health with Mulch!

I think sometimes Arborists get lazy! We see a fungus, prescribe a treatment without finding out what the fungus is or why it could attack the tree to begin with! In fact, most times the fungus or other disease is merely taking advantage of a tree that was already sick to begin with (I don’t do this anymore by the way!)

Then we go on to charge tons of money to treat something that we haven’t actually taken the time to diagnose, which very realistically could be only a secondary symptom. We have an expression as people: “Getting to the root of the problem.” 

In almost 100% of the cases, the tree was stressed first; meaning it had something that was negatively affecting it that could have, A.) been prevented, and B.) was probably caused by people to begin with!

I have a generalized policy that I go by … “stressed trees get sick, healthy trees stay healthy.”

Here’s the way I look at it; assuming that what I’m saying is true, an Arborist should not be seen as a tree doctor, but rather should be looked at as a tree-stress manager. In fact, I see myself as somewhat of a “Tree-Shrink!!!”

So here’s my best sick tree advice: “DON’T TREE-T THE SYMPTOMS, TREE-T THE PROBLEM, AND TREE-T EARLY!

So the real question is, what stresses a tree?

Here’s a great list of some of the most common tree stressors:

-          Compacted soil

-          Nutrient deficiency

-          Over/under watering

-          Root system freezing/burning

-          Construction work around tree

-          Improper planting

-          Right tree in the wrong soil/region

-          Raising soil grade

-          Lowering soil grade

-          Doing ANYTHING to the soil in the drip-zone

-          Weather too hot

-          Non-ideal soil conditions

So you probably noticed …. nearly all of these stressors have one thing in common; THE SOIL!

There is one thing out there that you can do that will help you take care of your trees and ensure that your trees remain healthy and thriving. That one thing is also one of the cheapest things you can do for your tree and it’s summized in two words: MULCH RING! Mulch rings of course are very simply a large ring of mulch surrounding the base of the tree where grass and other plants are kept out of (preferably).

I recently read a study that compared 17 different fertilization methods, and you know which one caused the tree to remain the healthiest of all? MULCH RINGS! 

Here’s a DO/Don’t guide to effectively mulching your trees and keeping them healthy:

-          DO put down approximately 2” of mulch

-          DO extend your mulch ring as far out to the drip line as is feasible in your situation (to the edge of the canopy at least (the dripline))

-          DO use organic mulch that is slightly composted first

-          DON’T use chemically treated mulch

-          DON’T push mulch to the trunk of the tree (keep it 3”-6” away!)

-          DON’T build “berms” for new trees – it keeps water in the inside, and prevents outward root growth.

Well, there you have it. Mulch is one of the best things you can do for your trees as it not only insulates the soil, keeps weeds and grasses from competing, but it also feeds the soil as it breaks down, improving its condition and thereby keeping your trees healthy and thriving.

My Best Always,

-Matt Latham-
"The Tree Care Ninja!"