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Homeowner shares concerns over neighbor's 'odd' yard work: 'You could consider leaving a note in their door'

"I [imagine] this was done out of an instinct to care for the tree."

"I [imagine] this was done out of an instinct to care for the tree."

Photo Credit: iStock

A concerning landscaping choice led a homeowner to share their neighbor's handiwork on Reddit.

"Someone in my neighborhood volcano mulched with sand," the poster wrote in r/arborists.

"I [imagine] this was done out of an instinct to care for the tree."
Photo Credit: iStock

"Mulch volcanoes are erupting everywhere," according to the Penn State Extension

The problem is that a tree needs oxygen, and mulch or sand can stop the natural exchange of gases and water through the trunk and roots. Too much moisture means the bark and vascular tissue of the tree can decay, "compromising the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients."

The roots can also start to rot, and more roots can grow from trunk tissue instead of root tissue. Then, girdling roots develop, eventually leading to the strangulation of the tree.

The crusade against volcano mulching is akin to the popularity of rewilded and natural lawns, which not only save money and time on maintenance but also create healthier ecosystems.

The benefits of such gardening tactics also include the conservation of water and reduced use of fertilizers and pesticides — ever more important steps as extreme weather events such as droughts become increasingly frequent because of rising global temperatures.

The planet is inundated with 70 million pounds of chemical pollution for traditional aesthetic yard upkeep each year, and pesticides have been linked to human health hazards, including cancer, neurological and reproductive disorders, and birth defects, according to Audubon New York

Here are the basics on properly mulching around a tree: The mulch should be only about two to three inches deep, and it should not touch the trunk. You can push the outer edge of the donut as far as the drip line. Organic mulch helps the soil underneath retain moisture and moderates its temperature. It also prevents weeds from growing and can improve the structure, porosity, and nutrient-holding capacity of the soil as it breaks down.

The post sparked an interesting conversation.

"You could consider leaving a note in their door," one commenter said. "I [imagine] this was done out of an instinct to care for the tree."

The poster replied: "Oh yeah, he's out there doing all kinds of stuff, yard always looks neat and clean. I think maybe he's trying to start a xeriscaping thing... the non-tree beds are also covered in sand, which while a little odd and I'm not sure how it affects the soil chemistry, is not the worst idea ever in drought and heat stricken north Texas."

And the commenter answered: "Yeah, throw him a note, he wants to take care of the tree. Not everyone has been soaking up arborist knowledge on reddit for years."

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