The Dangers of Mulch Volcanoes

If you have trees in your yard, you most likely want to take good care of them and make sure they live long, healthy lives, right? Accordingly, you’ll definitely want to avoid the dreaded “mulch volcano.”

What Is a Mulch Volcano?

Just what is a mulch volcano? Essentially, it’s a pile of mulch that has been pushed up around a tree to form a volcano-like effect. You’ve most likely seen this effect in private yards and even at city parks or universities.

Keep in mind that a thin layer of mulch applied around a tree that grows with naturally mounded or raised roots is not a mulch volcano.

Why Is It Bad?

If mulch is supposed to be so good for plants – providing temperature consistency, suppressing weeds, and offering moisture and protection against pathogens and harsh weather – then why exactly is a mulch volcano bad for them?

The answer, explains the Washington Post, is that mulch mounds cause tree roots to grow above the ground into the mulch, rather than down into the soil. Unfortunately, this leaves the roots exposed and unable to get enough nutrition. Mulch piled high enough to rest against a tree’s trunk also softens its bark, which weakens the tree against rot, invaders and parasites.

Plus, mulch volcanoes are kind of pointless. Mulch is supposed to protect the tree’s root zone, but the root zone isn’t clustered right around the base of the tree like a mulch volcano. It actually extends out about as far as the tree’s crown, so a small pile of mulch isn’t doing much.

What Should You Do Instead?

First of all, you should leave several inches between the base of the tree and the layer of mulch to prevent rotting, weakening and parasites. Then, add a layer of mulch no more than 4 inches thick, advises the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension. You can go out as far as you like, and use a garden hose laid in a circle to help you get a feel for a natural look.

Premier Tree Solutions is a growing tree removal business based in Atlanta, Georgia. We specialize in a number of areas, including tree removal, tree trimming, tree pruning, Bobcat work, storm damage, storm cleanup, stump grinding, and branch clearing and debris removal. You can find out more or set up an appointment to get help maintaining your trees, shrubs and yard by visiting the website.