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Worried shopper shares image of major landscaping faux pas near grocery store parking lot: 'Seeing it makes me angry'

"Just felt sorry for these trees."

"Just felt sorry for these trees.”

Photo Credit: iStock

Mesmerizing mounds of mulch made waves on Reddit recently after a concerned user posted a disturbing image to r/arborists. The picture posted online shows a group of trees alongside a sidewalk, with the trees buried a foot or more deep in mulch. 

The caption read, "Holy Volcano Hell." They also added, "Walked out of the grocery store and just felt sorry for these trees."

The arborist community online reacted strongly to this image because the practices pictured are harmful to the trees, and it flies in the face of everything professionals know about how to mulch well.

"Just felt sorry for these trees.
Photo Credit: Reddit
"Just felt sorry for these trees.
Photo Credit: Reddit

A report from Rutgers University noted that "suffocation of the roots is the most common cause of tree and shrub death from over-mulching." Placing too much mulch at the base of a tree or bush often means that oxygen supply to the roots can be limited, and the plants won't be able to survive.

It might seem that the arborist community is making mountains out of mulch hills, but the health of trees in public spaces is an important issue for everyone. 

According to the National Library of Medicine, having trees in urban areas like the one pictured is good for "enhancing air quality, mitigating the urban heat island effect, reducing energy consumption, sequestering carbon, and aiding water management."

In fact, having more green in your environment can be holistically transformative. Making your home a greener place means tangible benefits for your health, and one easy way to do it is by naturalizing your lawn.

By replacing your grass lawn with native plant species such as clover, buffalo grass, or other native plants, you could reap benefits, such as lower water bills, and create a healthier ecosystem for pollinators.

The most tangible and interesting benefit of keeping trees in urban areas is in reducing the urban heat island effect. Trees can make urban streets significantly cooler than areas just a few blocks away, a benefit that becomes increasingly important as global temperatures rise.

Reactions to the post are a mix of puzzled and outraged.

One user wrote, "Somebody had a lot of extra mulch and had nowhere to put it."

Another said, "These photos are textbook examples of how not to mulch."

The user who perhaps has their finger most securely on the pulse stated, "So gross... seeing it makes me angry."

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