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It's mulching season - here's how the pros do it

May 17, 2018

Mulching your trees, especially younger ones, is a great way to help maintain their health and beauty. Mulch helps retain moisture, protect roots from extreme heat or cold, control the spread of weeds, prevent soil compaction, and reduce the risk of lawn mower damage.


As common as mulching is, it’s often done incorrectly – potentially causing irreversible damage.


If you’re planning to lay down mulch, consider these Arborist-approved best practices:


Use good mulch

  • Not all mulch is created equal; organic mulch is the most nutrient-rich and will improve soil structure as it decomposes. 

  • Look for medium-textured mulch that will provide for the most efficient moisture retention

  • Know where your mulch is coming from. Free mulch from the municipal parking lot or other sources may have come from diseased trees, or can contain pests and impurities you don’t want to spread on your property.


Remove grass around the base of the tree

  • Depending on the size of your tree, remove all grass within a 3 to 10-foot radius around the base. This decreases competition for water and nutrients in the soil.


Don’t use too much

  • Using too much mulch is the most common mistake made by homeowners.

  • Instead of dumping the whole wheelbarrow of mulch around the tree, place mulch around the tree by hand at a two-inch thickness, according to Mike Ripley, owner of Ripley Tree Service. This prevents root suffocation.

  • Never cover the tree’s root flares; make a donut shape, leaving a little bit of space between end of root flares and inner edge of mulch.


If have more tree questions or need service, contact Ripley Tree Service for a free consultation. We are an independent family business with 3 certified arborists on staff, serving Northeast Ohio since 2001.

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