Common Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid

mulching on the side of concrete sidewalk

The weather is starting to warm up and do-it-yourselfers are getting ready to mulch, prune, and plant trees.  As the “Authority in Landscaping and Tree Health”, we wanted to provide useful information on not only creating but maintaining a happy, healthy and beautiful landscape. 

Avoid Volcano Mulching

Your trees require oxygen, water, sunlight, and nutrients to grow. A mound of mulch at the base of a tree suffocates the tree’s root system.  The excessive mulching reduces oxygen to the roots, can encourage rot around the base of the tree, and promotes girdling roots which strangle a tree to a slow death. 

But why do homeowners pile that much around the trees every year, ending with a heap of mulch volcanoes? 

Some like the appearance of a raised mulch cone against a flat lawn. Others think that some mulch is good and thus more mulch is better. Regardless of the reason, mulch volcanoes are bad for your trees. 

Spreading the mulch evenly to an overall depth of two to three inches is an excellent way to preserve the health of your trees.

What Material is Best for Mulch?

There are many styles of mulch available, but which one works best for your yard? The most common forms are triple shredded dyed mulch, natural non dyed mulch, and wood chips.  Wood chips are a byproduct of shredding old trees and limbs through a wood chipper, and offer a great low cost option for weed control in naturalized landscapes. 

Dyed and non-dyed triple shredded mulch are very similar, but the dyed option will offer color that lasts longer before fading.  The dyes used in dyed mulch are similar to what is used in facial makeup, so there is not a worry with exposure to pets and kids.  The benefit of a triple shredded  mulch is that the particles are finer which can allow for a very smooth and manicured appearance when done mulching.

When to Mulch?

Mulching can be done anytime of the year but most commonly is done in the Spring.  This is a great time to tend to your yard before perennials come to life, and it allows for an early start on weed control. As we said earlier, the ideal depth is two to three inches for maximum weed suppression and moisture retention for the surrounding plants.  As mulch deteriorates and decomposes, this depth will decrease.  It’s important to replenish this mulch layer as it breaks down.

Some homeowners like to mulch every season in order to provide a new fresh pop of color. Others mulch every other year, more in line with the rate at which mulch decomposes.  It all comes down to your individual preferences.

Improper Pruning

We’re sure you have seen poor tree pruning techniques a time or two.  It’s hard to miss ugly topped trees while driving through town. Beyond poor aesthetics, improper pruning causes an array of subsequent issues and stress for the tree.

Topping trees will reduce the overall size of a tree’s canopy greatly, but it typically creates more problems than it solves. What results after topping a tree is the development of long water sprout branches that are inherently weaker.  These branches are much more prone to breakage during severe weather events.

Lion tail pruning is a method in which all the smaller interior branches of a canopy are removed. This is not the same as crown thinning, as proper crown thinning will still preserve interior limbs. Lion tail pruning techniques leave the tree with long, overextended limbs which are compromised in strength when high winds pass through the tree. 

Hiring an ISA Certified Arborist that understands arboriculture and biology will result in a pruning prescription that considers the long-term health of the tree.  We personalize pruning based on the specific and unique needs of each tree by assessing the tree’s species, age, health, and site conditions.  

Not only does professional pruning preserve the health of the tree, it also improves the safety of the entire property sitting below the tree’s canopy. If you have any questions or uncertainty  about your trees, consider requesting a professional consultation by an ISA Certified Arborist with Tree Risk Assessment Qualifications.

Planting the Proper New Trees

Like any organism, there are a variety of different types of trees.  Some grow slowly and stay small while others grow quickly and become quite large. Some are resilient to disease and insect issues while others are very prone to problems. To reduce unnecessary costs down the road, selecting the proper tree for each location is crucial.

Planting a tree at the proper depth is critical to its viability.  The number one reason young trees struggle is due to being planted too deeply.  Proper installation and subsequent watering can ensure your investment continues to grow. 

With our company employing industry experts in Tree Care, Plant Health Care, and Landscaping, we have a unique advantage. Whatever stage your landscape may be in, from initial design and planting, all the way through to full plant maturity we can provide professional care with the broad picture in mind throughout.

Trees and plants are great investments to your property. They add aesthetic value, as well as property value to your home. We can help you enjoy that investment for many years to come.