Mitch BakerMitch Baker is the Horticultural Specialist at the American Plant Food Co. Garden Center and Nursery, in Bethesda, MD, focusing on natural gardening products and organic gardening. Mitch is a MD Certified Professional Horticulturist, with 31 years of experience in the garden center industry. He has studied at numerous horticultural institutions from New York to Oregon, and also serves on the board of the Rachel Carson Council.
Hi, I am Mitch Baker with American Plant Food. We have our tree properly planted now with our soil amendments, its at the proper depth, now its time to mulch this new tree. Most people think of mulch as a decorative covering that goes around the base of newly planted trees, but mulch is also functional. It does three things for our plants. It helps conserve moisture, it helps moderate temperatures, and it helps suppress weeds. We dont want to over mulch, we want to apply the proper amount of mulch to get the benefits without causing any problems. There are lots of different types of mulches available today in garden centers, in hardware stores, and all of these bark or mulch products are by-products of the lumber and furniture industry. We are not cutting down trees just to get mulch to put around new plants. So, it could be a pine bark chips or pine bark nuggets, it could be pine needles, it could be shredded hardwood, it could be Cyprus mulch, it could be cedar mulch, it could be cocoa shell mulch; all of these function and serve the purpose of mulching around our new trees. Today Im going to use shredded hardwood mulch. Were going to feather this out, thin it down to about one inch depth. Were not placing it right up against the stem of the tree, and we certainly dont want to create that famous mulch volcano that youve seen, no benefit to that, in fact it causes a lot of problems. Too much mulch around trees, excess of barrier to moisture penetration, its an invitation for fungal diseases along the stem or crown of the tree. Suffocation can occur, and that annual application of far too much mulch causes way too many problems, so we keep it to about an inch to get all the benefit without causing any problem.