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Gardener devastated to learn they fell victim to common landscaping mistake with dire effects: 'I [tried] to solve one problem made 10 more'

"This is frustrating…"

"This is frustrating…"

Photo Credit: iStock

Growing trees in your yard can be a trial-and-error process. One homeowner experienced the latter when they made a decision to landscape their space with woodchips. 

The user shared a photo of their fruit trees on the r/Tree forum. Each of the trees was surrounded by a layer of woodchips and sandwiched between bricks and rocks. 

"This is frustrating…"
Photo Credit: u/cottonjuice / Reddit

As noted in the comments section, this mistake seemed to cover up a phenomenon called "volcano mulching." Volcano mulching involves layering woodchips close to the base of the tree, which can impede the development of a root system. When the root system is ill-developed, the tree is more likely to be unstable and blow over in windstorms, which can cause damage. 

Instead of lining mulch (or, in this gardener's case, woodchips) and rocks against the tree, there should be at least three inches of space between the tree stem and the mulch. If you buried the "flare" of your tree, or where the roots protrude outwards toward the surface, you likely placed your mulch too close to the stem. 

This homeowner isn't the only one who made this fatal mistake. One Reddit user created a thread explaining that although it might seem counterintuitive to keep your mulch away, it's vital for proper root development and allows for the tree to breathe. 

Another user wrote on the r/YouShouldKnow Reddit forum that mulching the base of the tree can cause warm, moist conditions that are hotbeds for fungi and bacteria. The warm conditions can also be the perfect environment for mice and rodents that not only eat the bark, stem, and leaves of the tree but also the fruit you worked so hard to grow. 

Other users pointed out that adding the bricks didn't prevent the mulching conundrum. "Solve one problem by creating another, I like how you think," one user wrote in the comments section. 

"Mulch that deep is going to restrict oxygen and water to the roots," explained another. 

"This is frustrating… like the other person said I [tried] to solve one problem made 10 more!" said the original poster. 

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