How To Install Bark Mulch Around Trees

By Robert Robillard on Landscape

Bark Mulching Around Trees

Many people and “professional landscapers” do not know how to install bark mulch around trees. The photo below is an example of what NOT to do!

Avoid The Mulch Volcano

Improperly installed bark mulch pictured in the above and below photo is  often referred to as a “mulch volcano.” Soil or mulch placed in this manner causes tree root stress and can stunt, stress or even kill the tree.  Don’t mound up dirt or mulch around the trunks of trees.

Problems Associated With Mulch Volcano

  1. Excessive tree mulching can suffocate feeder roots.
  2. Piling up mulch against a tree can cause harm to the tree and invites disease, insects and rodents.
  3. Water runs off the sides of the sloped mulch  and away from trees tree’s base, which is where most of its feeder roots are.
  4. Piling 6″ of mulch is too deep and much of the water that would otherwise reach the tree’s roots gets absorbed by the mulch.

How To Install Mulch

When learning how to install bark mulch around trees it is important to know what some nomenclature about trees.  Specifically the tree flare.

The “trunk flare” of the tree should always be exposed and a channel should exist around the perimeter of the mulched area to draw water toward the tree. The trunk flare is the portion of the tree trunk close to the ground that starts flare or curve out and away.

How To Install Bark Mulch Around Trees







It is  important NOT to bury this flare as the flare is part of the tree and not part of the tree root system.   Bark protects tree trunks from atmospheric elements, but it does not resist soil moisture as well as the tree root covering does.  Mulch or soil piled up to the tree flare can cause decay as well as introduce insects and pathogens to the tree.

If you are mulching around a tree, start to taper the mulch down when you get to within 1-inch of the tree trunk, laving the base of the tree free from mulch.


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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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