Don’t be copy cat on tree care

Shortly we are going to be seeing landscape crews out and about maintaining the trees and shrubs around many major shopping centers. Homeowners may copy what they see the professionals doing, thinking that this is the correct way to maintain trees and shrubs, when in fact it couldn’t be further from the truth, said Lynette S. Kay, consumer horticulture program assistant at Cornell Cooperative Extension.

According to Cornell’s Gardening Website: Don’t Mound Mulch up against the trunks of trees and shrubs. Those volcano-shaped piles may look good to some, but they can kill your trees.

Instead, spread the mulch about 3 to 4 inches deep in a circle at least 3 feet in diameter around young trees and shrubs. Then brush away mulch at the center of the circle so that it is several inches from the base of the tree.

A slight depression in the center is OK. Think lunar crater — not Mt. Vesuvius, Kay said.

Even if you keep it away from the trunk spreading mulch deeper than 4 inches can create shallow, vulnerable root systems. As your tree grows, extend the mulch to their drip-line (the edge of the canopy).

Trees benefit more from this kind of extensive mulching. You’re not doing them any favors by piling it higher and deeper.

For information on proper pruning and planting methods a visit where a PDF version of these publications can be found:

The Cornell Guide For Planting And Maintaining Trees & Shrubs

 Pruning: An Illustrated Guide To Pruning Ornamental Trees & Shrubs

Have a gardening question? Oneida County Master Gardener volunteers are available Wednesday and Fridays between 9 a.m. and noon to answer your horticulture questions at 736-3394.

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