Mulching by DUMMIES

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by GarPA, Jan 8, 2003.

  1. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Posts: 2,585

    An earlier post reminded me to mention something that apparently is not understood or is perhaps ignored in the spirit of selling more mulch than is necessary....

    We see it everywhere....guys in the Spring heaping huge piles of mulch on top of piles of mulch already around a plant/tree.

    Between the snowstorms a guy called me to come look at why his trees aren't growing ...he thought maybe they were sick or dying. He has 6 ornamental pears...these are fairly fast growers...around the base of each tree....and I'm not exaggerating was about 12 inches of prior multiple years of mulch...asked if he minded if I dug way down to the roots...told him likely the tree roots are strangling the tree because of lack of air and water and trying to get to the surface...when I got underneath, there was a 3 inch diameter root that was in the process of circling the trunk...looked like a big time this will kill the tree...he was amazed at what he saw...he said every year for 5 years his landscraper would pile mulch on them and tell him that was good for the he knows different...

    THis is something I just wanted to pass along in the spirit of us all trying to be as professional as possible...2 inches of mulch is plenty...3 at the most
  2. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    Good point, GarPA.

    Many homeowners (or probably most) aren't aware that too much mulch can be just as detrimental (or worse) than not having enough mulch. Point like you said...nutrients (including air) cannot get to the root zone if there is a foot or more of mulch covering it.
  3. jkelton

    jkelton LawnSite Member
    Posts: 243

    Amen! Although my core business is selling mulch, I try to discourage people from putting more than 3", especially if the mulch particle size is fine (small). I would much rather see people spread the mulch out over a larger area to cover as much of the tree and plant roots as possible.

    Another thing about spreading the mulch out - there is no telling how many times I come upon a row of small trees and bushes that are individually mulched! I try to reccomend people making this into large bed areas if possible - cuts down on trying to trim around each individual plant each week, plus extending the mulch will help the roots (as long as it's not too deep). As far as appearance, it makes the property more uniform, flowing, and professional. Just think of how much time is spent trimming around these things! Check out this thread I started a while back:
  4. mdb landscaping

    mdb landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,205

    i know what you mean. for some reason, a lot of the local restaurants always have the mulch mounded way up around the trees. I dont know if it states in the contract for a certain amount of mulch each year, but it seems most chilis and bertuccis restaurants are like that.
  5. Lanelle

    Lanelle LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,361

    We refer to these as 'Mulch Volcanos'. Part of the problem is after people see them, they imitate the mistake, since it was on a professionally-maintained site. Also, failing to put de-mulching into the contract spec. means no money/time to do it so its ignored ane the volcano keeps growing. Our extension service even has a flyer in English & Spanish on this topic.
  6. fblandscape

    fblandscape Banned
    Posts: 776

    An additional thing to keep in mind when it comes to applying too much mulch... is that it will encourage the development of adventisous roots. When those start coming around you have problems. Also this may kill off your lower roots, which is your real root system. On top of that, it will keep the bark moist which creates a favorable environment for insects and diseases to infect the tree or shrub.
  7. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    Apparently this mistake is running rampant, even among huge parks that should know better...or do they? At Disneyworld, Universal, MGM, Bushe (sp) gardens, I can't help but think with all the horticulture experts these parks must hire, that maybe there is something good about mulch volcanos, or everybody is stupid. Dave g
  8. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Posts: 2,585

    Shame on me for saying this....but I'll bet the prime reason for this is REVENUE/SALES we all often piss and moan about scrubs/morons/yahoos/ in our business.....but just this past weekend my wife and I had dinner at an Olive Garden. THis property is taken care of from 'scaping to mowing by the largest company in our area....well "respected".....and the mulch volcanoes were ridiculous....this company is not a "scrub" or by no means a lowballer....they charge a very good price....but stunting or killing plants because of being able to sell a few more yards of mulch is frankly worse than lowballing or "scrubbing"....why? because they know better and choose to disregard the proper care of their clients valuable plantings....pardon my rant......but this makes me nuts when I see it.....all the bad guys in our business are not working out of the back of a station wagon........
  9. Tim Canavan

    Tim Canavan LawnSite Member
    from Houston
    Posts: 218

    educate your clients and not the idiots who messed up in the first place. You see this all over.

    Again, great post.
  10. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,662

    I replenish 1/3 each season if they are to be mulched. If they had 3 yds applied last summer then this year it would be 1 yd spread thin as a topcoat.

    More often than not we are able to re-fluff the exisiting product to cut back on expenses. prime example would be one we did last summer.

    This was an extensive span of mulch beds for a client that had paid his former LMO to put down mulch upon mulch upon mulch to banked areas over the past few years.

    All we did was pull it back and spread it out to even up the areas, and it looked like it had been done only a week or two ago. He saved a TON of money on his bill and we got a 2 acre fall re-seeding job at his house.

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