Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Consequences of Making Mulch Mountains

We've all seen them ... the neat, cone-shaped piles of mulch around ornamental trees.  I have heard them called Mulch Mountains, or Mulch Volcanoes.  Whatever you call them, they are HORRIBLE for the health of the trees they surround.

The trees in the photos in this post are in a parking lot island in a large commercial development.  Because of their size, I imagine they are original to the development, which was opened in the mid-1990s.  All this time, the landscape maintenance crews have been refreshing the Mulch Mountains, piling them higher and higher as they spruce up the development each year ... and what you see below is the inevitable result.

When I saw this the other day, I knew that it was a perfect example to use to spread the word and try to educate folks about what can happen.  (I could talk about this all day, but a graphic photo or two gets the point across a lot better.) 

Piling mulch against the tree's trunk like this traps moisture and creates a perfect atmosphere for girdling roots to sprout around the tree trunk.   

Most folks don't realize that mulch piled high against their trees can cause damage like this.  They think that professional landscape crews must be experts, so why not do what they do.  Don't fall for it!

If you choose to mulch the base of your trees or shrubs, try to keep the mulch from piling up against the trunk. In the long run, your trees will thank you.

Here's a video to show you how it's SUPPOSED to be done.


  1. YES! and it can also cause rot on younger immature trees!

    I think it looks terrible too! a tree coming up in the middle of a grassy area is so much more beautiful!

  2. I had no idea. Can you post pictures of how it should be done?

  3. Wow, it is not done like this around here. Thanks for showing the damage, that was really interesting to see.

  4. Oh good... looks like we did our correctly. Thanks, I didn't know this.


  5. Excellent post and wow, I had no idea!

  6. Hubby is getting mulch tomorrow, thanks for the tip!

  7. Excellent post. I am astonished that professional landscapers do this to trees, it is just criminal. Besides the fact that they are ruining a perfectly good tree by forcing surface roots or tempting collar rot, they are literally killing off the money invested in the landscape & endangering their own job. Idiots!

  8. Absolutely excellent post Connie....and great pictures to illustrate the problems...I'm sendning this post on to some horticultural educators I know.

  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting this on your blog. Ivy and improper mulching are killing our trees. Girdled trees can snap off at the base. Ivy competes with trees for light, water and oxygen and their weight makes them vulnerable to high wind and ice storms.
    Richmond (VA) Tree Stewards have more information and links on our website:
    Thanks again, Connie. I love your blog.

    Cindi Mashburn

  10. I was on the local TV morning show this past Thursday with my dos and don'ts of spring gardening, and what we call mulch volcanoes were on the list. The worst of these use that hideous red mulch making it truly look like lava flowing.


Thanks for stopping by and reading what I share. Comments are welcome and very much appreciated. Spam and trolls are not!

Related Posts with Thumbnails