Gardening can be a great way to get outside, interact with nature, and help out your local ecosystem — but it helps to do some research about best gardening practices first and not just copy every trend you see.
One trend that you definitely shouldn’t copy is the dreaded “mulch volcano,” where people pile up mulch or soil around the base of a tree for reasons that are pretty unclear to everybody. It’s also actively harmful to the tree.
Posting on the r/landscaping subreddit, one Redditor shared that they had “Found the final boss of mulch volcanoes down the street from me.”
The accompanying photo shows a truly impressive (in a bad way) mulch volcano stacked high around the base of a tree, which has also recently had several of its limbs amputated.
“A tree crime scene,” one commenter replied.
According to one environmental scientist and content creator, piling mulch around the base of a tree can harm the tree by locking moisture against the trunk, causing the bark and wood to decay and leaving the tree susceptible to fungi, bacteria, and insects.
But the volcano can also cause harm in the other direction by dehydrating the tree. In hotter weather, the mulch can dry out and prevent moisture from getting to the roots. In addition, the mulch volcano can prevent much-needed oxygen from reaching the base of the tree.
All in all, mulch volcanoes are definitely not the way to go — although a moderate amount of mulch around the base of a tree, leaving the root flare exposed, can help a tree thrive.
“Man aside from this being horrible for the trees, it’s just plain ugly anyway. I don’t quite understand why people do this,” one commenter wrote.
“To be fair, the people that do this don’t understand why they do it either,” another replied.
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