Spruce Trees and Mulch

nydepot(6)May 17, 2011

I've got 20 spruce trees on my lot, mostly out on the edges acting as a screen. They are roughly 20 feet tall, +/- 2 feet.

They all have their lower branches. Due to how they grew, the lower branches range from 6 inches to 24 inches above the ground. This has allowed some grass and weeds to grow under the edges and further in are some tougher weeds like deadly nightshade vines and prickly lettuce.

I've cleaned the vines out but would like to lessen the amount of weeds that seem to grow underneath AND make it so the mower/weed eater is not needed the first 12 inches or so underneath.

I've read I can mulch the spruces, about 2-3" inches deep max.

I'm thinking though it may look weird to have these trees, some of which are not next to one another but spread out more, with a perfect circle of mulch under each tree. I'd take the mulch out to the edge, which for their height is about 14-15' diameter.

Any design ideas on this? I don't want the lawn to look like it has brown polka dots but would like to lessen the weeds and scruff around the bottom edges.



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Mulch the entire length of the line of the spruces - it doesn't matter if they are not that close to each other. A long, continuous bed of mulch will be visually more appealing than round, individual 'tree circles'. And it will keep the weeds and other undesirables down in any open areas between the trees. Bring the mulch out about 3' from the trunks - the purpose of mulch, in addition to suppressing weeds, is to conserve soil moisture and the tree roots will extend well beyond the canopy dripline. Turf grasses and weeds will compete with the trees for water and soil nutrients so keeping them well away from the trees is beneficial. Just keep the mulch from touching the trunks.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 7:35PM
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mdvaden_of_oregon(NW Oregon)

Mulch will stop some weeds, but enable other ones. Usually, it seems to help keep weed populations reduced.

There is no reason to avoid touching tree trunks with mulch, as long as it is minimal, like an inch deep. In time, it could be increased slightly, but no real need.

The new National Champion Ponderosa Pine has about 4 feet to 5 feet of needle mulch against it's trunk that it put there itself slowly over time.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 10:17PM
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mdvaden_of_oregon(NW Oregon)

Part B to my earlier reply ...

It is possible to see a surge of weed or tree seedling germination after putting mulch down. If there is a surge due to seeds on the ground that you may not have seen, don't get discouraged with mulching. The practice is very worthwhile.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 11:08PM
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