Beware of the Mulch Volcano

Mulch volcano
mulch volcano from hell

Creating mulch volcanos is one of the worse things you can do to a tree.

I am so saddened when I see trees mulched up to their lower branches, called ‘Mulch Volcanos’. If the truck of your tree looks the same as a telephone pole, there’s too much mulch on it!!! The tree should flare out where it comes out of the ground.

In my opinion, this has to be the worst volcano I’ve seen in my entire life…

Monkey See, Monkey Do….

Sadly, homeowners see mulch volcanos and think this is the correct way to mulch, and the vicious cycle continues. Professional landscapers do it all the time just to fill their pockets, telling you it’s horticulturally correct. Don’t fall for it! You DO NOT need to add mulch to your beds yearly. It is a good idea to cultivate what is still there, though. My advice is to apply biannually or only where it may have eroded.

fallen tree

There are many problems that a mulch volcano can cause. Girdling roots, poor growth, mold to name a few… However, crown rot rates as a number one worst issue. One stiff breeze is all it will take. Notice in the photo to the right, the trunk snapped off right at the mulch-line. These types of happenings can cause some costly repairs. Mulch volcanoes are sneaky. This tree looked completely healthy. Sometimes a tree with a lot of gumption will grow large, however the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

mulch volcano surgery

Saving trees from the damages of mulch volcanoes is a tedious job.

Depending on the size of the tree and how long the tree has been improperly mulched, there are couple ways to fix the problem:

  • Digging it out by hand
  • Using pressured water

After removing the mulch, prune errant roots and check the trunk for damage and disease.

The Right Way to Mulch a Tree

Here is a tree properly mulched, you can clearly see the root flair at the top of the mulch line. The area for mulch ring is also the same distance out from the trunk as the crown is. Grass prevents the tree from getting moisture, along with stealing all the nutrients available in the soil. Sometimes it’s not possible to make the ring this large, however make it as big as possible. Lastly, only put enough over the area (3″) to control weeds and to help the area retain moisture.

Correct mulch
This tree is not only properly mulched, it has the right sized ring around it too.

© Wellness Garden Design

What is a Mulch Volcano?

A tree that is mulched up to its lower branches is called a ‘Mulch Volcano’. If the truck of your tree looks the same as a telephone pole, there’s too much mulch on it!!! The tree should flare out where it comes out of the ground. Mulch volcano

How do you Mulch a Tree Properly?

Here is a tree properly mulched, you can clearly see the root flair at the top of the mulch line. The area for mulch ring is also the same distance out from the trunk as the crown is. Grass prevents the tree from getting moisture, along with stealing all the nutrients available in the soil. Sometimes it’s not possible to make the ring this large, however make it as big as possible. Lastly, only put enough over the area (3″) to control weeds and to help the area retain moisture. Correct mulch

Published by Wellness Garden Design

Wellness Gardens use plants that excite the senses, are inclusive to all & aids in nurturing serenity. 💚🌳💚 Grant aid for nonprofits #gardenscanheal

11 thoughts on “Beware of the Mulch Volcano

      1. it was ours what bothered dramacula… we cut off the top but don’t ask what we paid … think I never ever can eat walnuts without having this bill in my mind LOL

  1. OMG I remember the Mulch Volcanoes. That first photo!! Seriously?? 😀
    I don’t see them here – mostly because the council does nothing for street trees except occasionally trim them or remove when dead!

Have any awesome thoughts to share?

%d bloggers like this: