Here at Paradise Pest Control, we love our trees and we want to help you; it’s time to come clean about the dreadful mulch volcanoes.These piles of mulch surrounding the tree in fact leave the tree to a slow death.
Recently, the application of these volcanoes has become more prevalent. Martha Smith, a horticulture educator on the University of Illinois Extension was quoted on, “These issues have been on-going, but in recent years people have started to mound mulch up around the base of the trees – the ‘mulch volcano.’”
Smith says that mulching helps maintain moisture, “Evaporation is reduced, and the need for watering can be minimized. It also helps control weeds. A mulch layer will suppress weeds from germinating at the soil line.” However, in this case more isn’t always better. “New problems have emerged because of this practice. Tree bark is meant to protect the trunk. It works best in the air and light. If you pile mulch onto the bark, it is now exposed to dark and moisture. Bark will begin to rot, and rotted bark cannot protect the tree from insects and diseases. In fact, diseases grow better in this type of environment,” states Smith.
Not only diseases are caused by these volcanoes, the killing of the inner bark also occurs. The young bark is insulated by the mulch and it becomes hot enough to die. These volcanoes promote the growing of secondary roots. Secondary roots grow within the much and eventually suffocate the main roots growing in the surrounding soil.
Even with plenty of water source, the mulch can create a drought for the single tree because of the water-repelling fungi, such as slime molds, that are found on large piles of mulch. On the other hand too much mulch and too much rain can lead to the tree drowning or even breaking because of the fact that the spongy mulch rots the trunk.
The right way to mulch is to not pile high but wide. A circle five to 6 inches from the trunk and two to four inches max can lead to the perfect growth of your young tree.
Hopefully this outdated practice will be ended with education from Landcare professionals.