To celebrate Earth Month this year, TreeFolks invites you to mulch a tree!
What is Earth Month?
Earth Day has been celebrated on April 22nd since 1970 when 20 million people attended events at schools, universities, and community sites across the United States. More recently, many folks have been celebrating and giving back to the Earth throughout the entire month of April, because we recognize the importance of the natural world in our lives, and we want to help Mother Nature as much as we can, all month long.
Should we plant trees to celebrate Earth Month?
Our tree planting season here in Central Texas is from October through March. That’s because trees planted during the warmer months will struggle to grow the root systems they need to survive the long, hot summer. If you have trees to plant, wait until the fall to give them the best chance at a healthy, resilient life. Instead, TreeFolks has named Earth Month “Mulch Month” because that’s the very best thing you can do for your trees right now.
What is mulching?
Mulch is material (such as decaying leaves, bark, or compost) spread around or over a plant to enrich or insulate the soil.
Mulching is simply placing mulch on the ground under a tree. We recommend using mulch made of natural materials like shredded wood, or dried leaves. Over time the mulch will break down and add nutrients to the soil.
The benefits of proper mulching include:
- Keeps water in the soil longer so the tree’s roots are able to absorb more
- Controls weed germination and growth. This can prevent damage to the tree from lawnmowers or weed whackers.
- Insulates soil, protecting roots from extreme summer and winter temperatures.
- Adds important nutrients to the soil
- Encourages a healthy population of soil organisms that benefit the trees, like earthworms
Learn more about proper mulching by the International Society of Arboriculture.
What is Volcano Mulching?
Volcano mulching is when the mulch is piled up against the trunk of a tree, on a volcano-shaped hill, instead of spread out in a wide, flat circle. Volcano mulching kills trees. It suffocates the root collar and encourages rot, just like planting a tree too deeply. The root collar, or root flare, is the wide part at the base of the trunk, which needs to be exposed to the air.
What else can I do for the trees this month?
A newly planted tree will need watering for at least 3 years after planting. TreeFolks recommends giving your tree 15-20 gallons of water every week unless it has rained at least 1 inch that week. In the hottest part of the summer, when it’s over 100 degrees outside, you can increase the watering to twice a week.
To have a healthy urban forest, we need everyone’s help. Please consider celebrating the earth and all living creatures for Earth Month, by mulching your trees or helping a neighbor to mulch theirs, or joining us at one of our tree care events this month. Together we can make a big difference!
This article was written by Gillian, our amazing community engagement and volunteer coordinator. She is a dedicated tree lover who enjoys puzzles and fun bike rides.