Click photos for larger images.
Don't mound mulch up against the trunks of trees and shrubs (right). Those volcano-shaped piles may look good to some, but they can kill your trees.
Instead, spread the mulch about 3 to 4 inches deep in a circle at least 3 feet in diameter around young trees and shrubs. Then brush away mulch at the center of the circle so that it is several inches from the base of the tree.
A slight depression in the center is OK (left). Think lunar crater -- not Mt. Vesuvius.
Even if you keep it away from the trunk, spreading mulch deeper than 4 inches can create shallow, vulnerable root systems. As your trees grow, extend the mulch to their dripline (the edge of the canopy).
Trees benefit more from this kind of extensive mulching (right). You're not doing them any favors by piling it higher and deeper.
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