Adding mulch around your trees can provide numerous benefits. Besides creating an appealing landscaping look, it is also healthier for trees. Properly applied mulch provides insulation against temperature extremes, helps retain moisture, minimizes weeds, prevents soil compaction and reduces lawn mower and weed trimmer damage. These benefits are particularly important for saplings and small trees. Here’s how to add mulch to your trees the right way.

Tools and supplies

  • Mulch (wood chips or bark pieces)
  • String, hose or spray paint
  • Shovel
  • Wheel barrel and rake (recommended for larger jobs)

Step 1

Mark out a 3- to 10-foot radius circle around the tree using string, a hose or spray paint. The area should ideally extend to the edge of the tree’s canopy for small trees. Using the shovel, carefully remove the grass within the circle, taking care not to damage the tree’s roots. Add decorative edging if desired.

Step 2

Evenly distribute mulch within the circle to a 2- to 4-inch depth. A wheel barrel and rake will make large jobs easier. Avoid adding too much mulch, or you’ll risk smothering the tree’s roots. Do not pile up mulch against the tree’s trunk, which can contribute to trunk rot – create a “donut” shape rather than a “volcano”.

Step 3

Maintain your mulch throughout the year by adding more to preserve the correct depth and raking it when it begins to become matted or compacted.

With properly applied and maintained mulch, your trees will have the best chance to thrive for years to come, and your property will look much more appealing.