stparkes
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how long do newly planted trees need mulch rings?

Hi all. Just had a 20 ft. maple tree planted with support cables along with two young crab apple trees. I'm not a fan of mulch rings, but understand the need for them at this point. When will I be able to say goodbye to the mulch rings and create a more natural look with grass?

imafan26
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Re: how long do newly planted trees need mulch rings?

Being a tree owner but not from a cold spot, I have to tell you that some trees will always need a mulch ring, but it doesn't have to be a ring. You can make it more free form. Citrus trees, mango trees, unless they are pruned to open them up, won't let any light through the canopy and the ground is bare or you will see surface roots. Mango trees drop leaves so it creates its own mulch. For me the mulch covers the otherwise bare ground. The trees with longer trunks that does allow the sun to let the grass grow all the way to the trunks, need a tree guard to prevent weed whacker damage. Otherwise, to avoid damaging the bark, maintain a mulch ring so the grass will not grow up to the bark.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

tomc
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Re: how long do newly planted trees need mulch rings?

If you don't want a mulch ring remove the trees. It (the mulch) helps to retain moisture. it, is the majority of provided available carbon.
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imafan26
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Re: how long do newly planted trees need mulch rings?

Leaves under a tree pretty much is the way nature intended it to look and function. What you can do with some trees is underplant it with some bulbs, flowers or if it is in a shady spot some greens. You would still need to maintain a border around that or the grass will creep in and invade the border. If I had the choice actually, I would get rid of the lawn and keep only enough grass for recreation and ground cover. Grass is probably the most high maintence plants you can have. Monoculture invites pests, weeds will grow through it since it is being mowed short. There is a lot of mowing. Shrub borders only need to be cleaned up once every month or so, you have to mow grass sometimes every week or two. Grass is a water hog. You can chose border plants that don't need a lot of water and if you select the right ones they won't get so big or shaggy and shrubs and a diverse landscape provides interest and habitat for wildlife including beneficial insects. Take a look around the neighborhood, there isn't that much life hanging around a well manicured lawn. You won't see many people in the yard or any other critters. If anything, no one steps on the lawn because traffic will make it look more worn. Older, more used lawns will show tracks where people always walk, and it is usually not the most manicured or well taken care of lawns. The yards that have more diverse plantings with different kinds of plants may look messy to some people, but you will find birds, butterflies, spiders, 2,4,6, and 8 legged critters. When a garden is loved, you probably will also see more people in it.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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applestar
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Re: how long do newly planted trees need mulch rings?

Great responses, though tomc's was a bit too brief to be clear -- but I think imafan's last comment was very well thought out.

I was re-reading the OP and realized the tree is 20 ft :shock:

But it's probably a good time to note that some trees need the protection of the mulch ring more than others -- imafan pointed out that they create the buffer zone to protect the base of the trees from getting weed whacked. Some trees are very susceptible to diseases, and injuries like that could become a vector. Also nasty burrowing type pests could find their way in.

I think crabapple is probably such a tree. Maple once grown will drop its own mulch of leaves and the shade and the shallow roots hogging all the surface moisture tend to kill off the grass.

In fact, especially with young trees, if you have rabbits and deer, mice, etc., you should protect the base of the trunk with a collar of hardware cloth or plastic tree wrap for the winter so they won't get girdled from them eating the bark. Actually if you have deer browsing through, you may need to fence the new trees, though I suppose the 20 footer is safe enough....
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tomc
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Re: how long do newly planted trees need mulch rings?

Trees live in a relationship with the other things in their neighborhood. Chief among their need is water. Mulches conserve water near to trees. (water being the first seven out of ten things a tree needs). Trees eat in a similar relationship with the other things in their biome. Mushrooms live in the litter and dead wood around trees. Bark mulch helps fulfill all of those roles.

If you take away a dogs food and water dish, how long is he going to stick around...
Think like a tree
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stparkes
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Re: how long do newly planted trees need mulch rings?

Thank you for all your responses. Can't tell you how much I appreciate it.
Just a few more questions from this novice.
Super Green Thumb suggested looking around my neighborhood. I live in farm country. Lots of rolling hills and yards with old established trees along with ornamental ones. No mulch rings in sight. My home is an old barn built in 1860. When I look out back, there are some mature trees with grass or moss growing around the base. We don't have an immaculate lawn, nor do I ever want one. There's grass, sure, but I don't care about it looking perfect. And in our front yard, there was a 200 year old maple that sadly saw its last day this past summer.

So sorry if I'm not being clear. Hopefully this will help.
When I look around the rural area I live in, I see healthy mature trees without mulch rings or collars or flowers growing around them.
I am taking precious care of our new trees with the mulch rings, water bags and manual waterings.
When do you let nature do its thing?

stparkes
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Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 12:23 am
Location: Morris, CT zone 5

Re: how long do newly planted trees need mulch rings?

Thank you, Marlingardener Mod. I like your Leaves-Flowers-Roots fertilizer tip on your website. Very helpful.

imafan26
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Re: how long do newly planted trees need mulch rings?

A lot of people do not mulch around their trees, especially established ones, but it is not because the tree does not need it. A lot of times it is because people don't know any better and especially trees that have been around for many years, most people don't water or fertilize them either. All they do is take the fruit if it is a fruit tree, prune them when they get too big, and rake up the fallen leaves. If you look closer you will find that if the grass grows up to the trunk of the tree, there are a few tufts of tall grass where the mower could not get to it and unless the tree has a tree guard, the bark may be scarred from being hit with weed whackers and mowers. Other trees have shallow roots and can be alleopathic and the grass won't grow under the trees. This is especially true of trees with dense canopies, there isn't enough light for grass to grow well.

I am glad that you decided to plant more trees as it is the trees, especially trees with diameters of 8 inches or more that make the most oxygen to replenish the air all living things need.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

tomc
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Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

Re: how long do newly planted trees need mulch rings?

Thank you stparkes, but I am just TomC, the super green thumb ranking is just cause I talk too much.

I have trees going into a strip mine. the soil the trees have is utterly sterile and the soil has no carbon. They will need mulch added for the next ten or more years.
Think like a tree
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