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Arborist shares troubling image of common yard maintenance mistake: ‘It’s probably too far gone to save’

“What a decade of volcano mulching does …”

"What a decade of volcano mulching does ..."

Photo Credit: iStock

Mulching is a great way to keep your garden tidy and healthy. However,  the practice can damage and even kill your plants if done incorrectly.

A photo posted in the r/arborists subreddit, captioned “What a decade of volcano mulching does to a mfer,” showed a tree with feathery-looking roots around its base, demonstrating the effects of repeated over-mulching and improper tree care.

"What a decade of volcano mulching does ..."
Photo Credit: Reddit

For those of us who aren’t arborists, the original poster clarified the technique in a comment: “Volcano mulching is where mulch or dirt is piled up against the trunk of the tree far above the root flare. The mound of substrate against the trunk causes advantageous roots to form above the root flare which are highly likely to begin circling and eventually girdling the trunk thus causing decline and death of the tree.”

“Volcano mulching is an improper tree care technique where, year after year, mulch is piled against the trunk of a tree,” Gregory Jordan, a forestry specialist from the University of New Hampshire, wrote in an article about the dangers of volcano mulching. “Properly planted trees (or naturally grown trees) will develop a characteristic root flare near ground level.“ 

He also explained how mulching like this inhibits the root flare of a tree and can lead to rotting and disease. These things combined are likely to kill your tree. 

Trees are an important part of our ecosystems and capture carbon from the environment. According to the U.S Forest Service, “In 2019, forest land, harvested wood products, woodlands, and urban trees in settlements removed a net 775.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMT CO2 Eq.) from the atmosphere, offsetting more than 11 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.”

Deforestation displaces people and wildlife and contributes to climate change. While killing one tree is not akin to deforestation, we should be caring for our trees. Fortunately, there are many organizations and teams researching new ways to capture carbon pollution and utilize the ways nature captures carbon. 

Commenters on the post lamented the fate of this tree. One person said, “I will be showing this to my landlady. I’ve told numerous times she’s making her trees sick.”

Another person asked, “How do you counter this?” The original poster responded, “At this point, it’s probably too far gone to save. Prevent it instead.” 

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