Mulch Around Your Young Trees To Encourage Growth

Are your young trees growing more slowly than you would like? Although there are many possible explanations for slow growth, and some tree species are simply slow growers, one common reason for slow growth is a lack of moisture and nutrients. Applying mulch around your young trees can help keep more water in the soil, stimulating faster growth. The mulch also breaks down slowly, adding valuable nutrients back into the soil for your trees to use.

What kind of mulch should you use?

It's important to choose a mulch made from natural materials. Wood chips and shavings are the most popular choice, and for good reason. Wood stays in place, offers a dense moisture barrier, and breaks down at a good rate. If you have pine needles or grass clippings on hand, these also make great mulches. You may wish to apply a layer of one of these mulches and then cover it over with wood mulch if you're concerned about appearance.

How do you apply the mulch?

If your trees are surrounded by bare soil, this task is easy. Cut a section of string to about 3 feet in length. Have a friend hold one end of the string against the tree, while you hold the other end and walk around the tree in a circle. Mark off the circle formed as you walk around the tree, and apply mulch to the inside of this circle. You can simply dump bags of mulch into the circle, and then use a garden rake to spread the mulch out evenly.

If your trees are surrounded by grass, you'll want to till the grass up gently before applying the mulch. This will help keep it from growing up and through the mulch. Be careful not to go deeper than a few inches, as you don't want to disturb the tree roots. Then, apply the mulch as described above.

How much mulch should you apply?

A 3–4 inch layer of mulch should be sufficient for locking in moisture and adding nutrition. You'll want to add an additional 2–3 inches of mulch each spring to replace the mulch that has broken down. To mulch a circle with a radius of 3 feet, you need about 0.25 cubic yards of mulch, which is 2 or 3 standard-sized bags. You can use an online calculator tool to calculate exactly how much mulch you need before you head to a store like Rt 34 Landscape Supply Yard.

Once you trees are well-mulched, you should notice their growth start to improve. The mulch comes in especially handy during periods of drought. If you water your trees, mulch helps hold in the moisture so you can get away with watering every couple of days instead of daily.