Proper Mulching Technique and the Dangers of “VOLCANO MULCH”

volcano mulch

Volcano Mulching

Recently I have been noticing a rash of trees that have become victim to the dangers of “volcano mulching”.  Volcano mulching refers to the piling up of mulch around the base of trees causing moisture to build up around the trunk, rotting out the tree and leading to a slow death by suffocation due to lack of oxygen exchange to the roots.

mulch line

Photograph 2 (Mulch Line)

Proper mulching involves adding a protective layer of organic mulch approximately 2-4 inches thick, keeping the mulch about six inches away from the base of trees so to avoid build up.  Mulch has many advantages including the addition of organic matter to the soil, allowing moisture retention for the plant and helping as a weed barrier to keep weeds down as well as adding an attractive finishing touch to garden beds.

Signs of tree suffocation are indicated by a darkening of the trunk with patches of blacked spots going up the tree.  In Photograph 2 you can see where approximately six inches of mulch had been piled up on this tree causing the tree to already start rotting. When removing the mulch it should be to the level of the tree collar (where the base of the tree starts to flare out). Even routine mulching can gradually build up so it is recommended to remove some of the older mulch if necessary before applying a new fresh layer.  This tree should now be fine since the mulch was removed and the base of the tree will be allowed to heal and the health of the tree restored.

 As Always…Happy Gardening!

 Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

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Winter Damaged Hydrangea & Crape Myrtle-How to Treat

Winter Damage to Hydrangea & Crape Myrtle

This past winter has been recorded to be one of the worst for winter damage to foliage of plants in the past 25 years. I have witnessed winter damaged Hydrangea and Crape Myrtle on many properties I have visited and have been getting many inquiries as to how to remedy the damage that has occurred. Chances are that your plants will fully recover so I am passing on this useful information.

hydrangea winter die back

Hydrangea Winter Damage

If your hydrangea are sprouting new growth from the bottom only with no new sprouts on the upper stems and visible shoots on bare wood have a dark dried up appearance then they are not viable. To remedy cut back all dead wood down to where new growth is occurring.  If your variety of hydrangea blooms on old wood you may not get blooms this year but your hydrangea should fully recover.

crape myrtle winter damage

Crape Myrtle Winter Damage

In the case of Crape Myrtles most of them survived but have dead top growth. It is advisable to wait until the end of June/beginning of July to cut back branches to new growth in order to allow the plant to sprout as much new foliage as possible. Other plants showing winter damage besides hydrangea and crape myrtle include butterfly bush and roses.  Use the same practice to remove expired growth.

Butterfly Bush Winter Damage

Butterfly Bush Winter Damage

 Due to the unusually harsh winter plant growth is delayed by approximately two to three weeks this season.   New growth will have a slow start this spring but with some patience and proper care your plants should show full recovery.

  As Always…Happy Gardening!

 Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2014, All Rights Reserved

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