By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – OK, so how much mulch? Probably not that much.

No matter how many times you see it that way in someone’s yard or a parking lot, mulch should never be piled up against a tree trunk like a volcano. Always keep mulch several inches away from the trunk as well as off of those large surface roots. Mulch touching bark can kill trees by encouraging diseases, inviting insects, and giving critters who chew a place to hide while they do their damage.

Oddly enough, while way too many trees have too much mulch around the trunk, there’s often too little farther out on the ground – mulch should extend to the ‘drip line’ of a tree, that is, out to the ends of the branches, because there are roots underground all that way which can use the protection above ground from mulch. All you need is a couple of inches; 2 or 3, not 6 or 8 or 20 inches of mulch.

The good news is that if you already had mulch put down for this year, you can probably just take the excess from that volcano pile around the trunk and rake it out to cover the entire circle of shade beneath your trees and shrubs.

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