We are one day closer to lawn care season, which means homeowners are thinking about their trees.

Because, well trees live in your yard. And it won’t be long before you’re at your local Des Moines home improvement store stocking up on mulch to make your trees look pretty and, by your best judgment, feel happy and cozy for the summer.

But wait. We often see this—a mulch Volcano.

The recommended mulching depth is 2-4 inches, and many trees fall victim to a plague of over mulching.

“Mulch Volcanos” are excessive piles of mulch materials applied around the base of your tree. Deep mulch can be effective in helping to prevent weed and grass growth around your tree but often leads to additional problems.

  • Applying mulch against the tree’s trunk can lead to the development of insects and diseases in trees.
  • Mulch around the tree’s trunk can lead to girdling roots, which can eventually kill the tree or reduce the growth of your tree.
  • Thick blankets of fine mulch around the base of your tree can become matted and reduce water and air penetration. In addition, it can reduce soil drying, which leads to excessive moisture in the root zone, which can stress the tree and cause root rot.
  • Some mulch, especially those containing fresh grass clippings, can affect soil pH and may lead to nutrient deficiencies or toxic build-up. Anaerobic “sour mulch” may give up a pungent odor, and the acid and build-up may be harmful to young plants.

By mulching a tree, you create a natural biodiverse climate of microorganisms to feed the tree in the most natural way possible.

The drip line is an imaginary line from the ground at the furthest edge of the canopy of a tree.

Apply mulch near but not touching the trunk of your tree, and extend the mulch to the drip line if possible. Trees appreciate feeling at home, and they are happy when the earth below them is as close to a forest floor as possible. Arborist wood chips are a great choice and should be applied in a 3-4 inch layer. If we are pruning or removing your tree or a tree near you, ask us for some material, we are happy to share. If you have mulch left from the previous year, check the depth, break up any matted layers, and refresh the look with a rake.


  • Improves soil biology, aeration, structure, and drainage for your tree.
  • Reduces damage from mowers and weed eaters.
  • Increases soil fertility as the mulch decomposes.
  • Controls weed germination and inhibit weed growth.
  • Insulates soil, protecting the roots from extreme summer and winter temperatures.

Did you know that trees and grass are not friends?

You will not find grass growing on a forest floor and with proper mulching you can create an environment that is as close to a tree’s natural environment as possible.



Wood chips, pine needles, hardwood and softwood bark, leaves, and various other products derived from plants, decomposing at different rates depending on the climate and soil microorganisms. This type of mulch requires more replenishing, depending on how fast it decomposes.

Trees thrive when other trees are present, their life is a cycle that feeds the next generation. It is an organic process and easy to maintain if you understand some basic needs of your tree.

We hope you feel better equipped with these proper mulching techniques! It is an uncomplicated practice and an easy way to help maintain the health and wellness of your tree for years to come!

we cut because we care.