University of Florida

Mulch Madness

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Using Mulch Wisely

When applying mulch in the home landscape, be sure to follow these simple tips:

  • Maintain a 2- to 3-inch layer around established trees, shrubs, and bedding plants. Coarse materials, such as pine nuggets, may be applied to a depth of 4 inches, but don't allow mulch to accumulate to a greater depth. Adding more mulch can harm plants because mulch intercepts rain and irrigation meant for plants' root systems.
  • Avoid "volcano mulching." When mulch is piled against the base of a tree, it holds moisture, encouraging rot in the trunk. Mulch piled against the trunks of young trees may also create a habitat for rodents that chew the tender bark, and can ultimately kill the trees.
  • Mulch to the drip line or beyond. The mulched area around the tree should be at least 8 feet in diameter. Remember that in a forest a tree's entire root system (which usually extends well beyond the drip line) would naturally be mulched by fallen leaves.
  • Rake old mulch. Some mulches can become matted, preventing water and air from seeping through. Rake mulch to refresh its appearance and benefit plantings.


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