Even when you have the best intentions, it’s easy to make mistakes. That’s especially true when it comes to gardening.
After spotting a green-fingered blunder in their local neighborhood, one Redditor was unsure how best to broach the situation.
The Redditor posted an image of oaks planted roadside in front of a neighbor’s property, and they were left dumbfounded by the nearly 3 feet of mulch that surrounded the base of each tree — also know as a mulch volcano.
“Can you believe this?” they captioned the post. “Beautiful live oaks with 3’ of mulch volcano choking the life out [of] them.”
Their initial thought was to print an article about tree husbandry and put it in their neighbor’s mailbox, but they were concerned it perhaps wasn’t their place to do so. But fellow Redditors seemed to back some kind of intervention in order to save the trees.
“They probably don’t know and they obviously try and do something good for the trees, so in my mind they’d appreciate it,” one user commented.
“I’d be offended if my neighbors sat back and watched my trees die instead of saying something,” said another.
As the first commenter said, it’s likely the piling of mulch around the trees was done in the interest of keeping them healthy. However, the efforts were almost certainly in vain.
Harvey Cotten from Huntsville Botanical Garden wrote that, unfortunately, “we may be doing more harm than good when we apply mulch in an incorrect fashion.”
Cotten recommended a maximum of 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the tree base — but to never let it pile up against the trunk.
The moisture held in mulch can split and crack the bark of a tree, which allows insects and disease to enter. Bark is like “armor plating,” according to Cotten, so any breach can put the tree in danger.
Oak trees are also particularly at risk of being choked by a lack of oxygen to the roots. Invasive species, heavy undergrowth, and, in this case, being covered too much can all contribute to oak roots not receiving the air they desperately need to thrive. In rainy conditions especially, the excess of soil will become saturated and make the problem worse.
But thanks to the keen eye of this local resident, these trees will, hopefully, live a long and happy life.
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