• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
stewards:
  • Leigh Tate
  • paul wheaton
  • Nicole Alderman
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Beau Davidson
  • Jay Angler
  • John F Dean
  • Nancy Reading
gardeners:
  • thomas rubino
  • Casie Becker
  • Mike Barkley

Volcano Mulch will not harm trees

 
pollinator
Posts: 845
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama), Zone 7B
140
fungi foraging trees bee building medical herbs
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Interesting comment from the Garden Professors.  I always thought volcano mulching would be harmful.

On volcano mulching:  Myth "In addition to promoting bark decay, it causes the tree’s roots to grow up into the mulch layer, rather than down into the soil…the tree may eventually die, and even topple."
Response:  There is NO published evidence, anywhere, that proper mulches (i.e., coarse arborist chips) are going to injure bark. They do not cause bark decay. Furthermore, tree roots grow where they have water, nutrients, and oxygen. This might be in the mulch layer. Growing deep into the soil is unlikely (not enough oxygen) unless the soil is excessively sandy or otherwise well drained. Any toppling of trees can be directly correlated with poor planting techniques that prevent roots from contacting and establishing in the site soil.
 
master steward
Posts: 9251
Location: USDA Zone 8a
2783
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
While I have never seen volcano mulch, I feel it might be something akin to biochar.  Rock dust and remanents of burned vegetation.

Might be really good if someone had access to it to do some experiments to see what happens.
 
Dennis Bangham
pollinator
Posts: 845
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama), Zone 7B
140
fungi foraging trees bee building medical herbs
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Volcano mulching is where you pile the mulch up against the trunk of the tree.
 
pollinator
Posts: 899
Location: Chicago
275
dog forest garden fish foraging urban cooking food preservation bike
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I see a lot of “volcano” trees along our neighborhood streets. I do notice that this will cause some trees to grow roots higher up along the trunk, rooting out into the mulch “volcano.”  It may not be harmful to the tree, but on a grafted tree you could get the scion wood growing roots which may have unintended consequences. E.g a dwarf tree growing to standard size.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2437
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
610
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am seriously in love with the term "Volcano Mulch."

I'm cautious about the process it refers to specifically; I don't like to bury tree trunks.

But great gawd almighty, if you put that name on any sort of nutritious mulch, you will make a fortune. Volcano Mulch 2.0 anyone? "Your plants will erupt!" This is just too sexy to miss. My 2c.
 
Anne Miller
master steward
Posts: 9251
Location: USDA Zone 8a
2783
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Dennis Bangham wrote:Volcano mulching is where you pile the mulch up against the trunk of the tree.



Dennis, thank you for explaining.

Our daughter uses decomposed rock mulch that I have never seen either so I thought this was something similar.  Maybe I need to google more.

 
pollinator
Posts: 483
Location: SE Indiana
271
dog fish trees writing
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think it just refers to when someone piles deep mulch around the trunk of a tree to the point it looks like a little volcano, often neglecting to put any mulch at all over the root zone. Lack of published evidence and opinions of "Gardening Professors" aside it is very bad for a tree, not to mention it looks really stupid.
 
steward
Posts: 2966
Location: Maine, zone 5
1569
3
forest garden trees food preservation solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just can't help myself :)

It came up in an image search and wanted to share.
 
Posts: 30
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Volcano mulching is NOT done for the good of the tree.

The tree will NOT benefit from this.

Some trees may accept garbage around its trunk.
Some varieties will suffer or possibly die if this is done.

It is done to make life easier for humans who do not want to weed wack around trees.

 
gardener
Posts: 2321
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
470
2
cat rabbit urban cooking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The squirrels like to sit in the center of the pecan tree when they eat all my nuts.  I realized late last year that the empty shells were piled 4 to six inches deep against the trunk.  When I raked it back, sections of the bark on the trunk were already rotting away. I don't think it was going to develop new roots.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 3129
Location: 4b
1011
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul from Back to Eden movie says he pulled wood chips 18" deep in his entire orchard right up the tree trunks with no I'll effects. He is in a very dry climate, so that may be the difference.
 
gardener
Posts: 784
Location: Central Indiana, zone 6a, clay loam
541
forest garden fungi foraging trees urban chicken medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can't know for certain if volcano mulch is harmful or not. I know the trees I have seen treated that way aren't doing well and often appear to have fungal issues or be dying. Mostly, mulch volcanoes seem like a pattern I don't see much in nature. So even if it isn't always harmful, I don't feel inclined to do it. I also find it ugly, personally. I would much prefer to see the beautiful trunk and root flare of the tree with some plants growing around it.

I see the mulch volcanoes most often in super manicured yards and around street or parking lot trees. The first I suspect is mostly aesthetic and/or motivated by not wanting to mow around roots. The second context makes less sense to me. Often, those trees are transplanted in as quite large trees already with a small root system. Usually in a limited space surrounded by pavement. I don't know how or if they are watered to establish properly. It seems like spreading the mulch out further from the trunk would be more beneficial for improving water retention and root development further out from the trunk. Or depending on rainfall and location, maybe the tree planted in a mulched basin. I guess I just don't understand the mulch volcano as helpful strategy to grow healthy trees. I've seen a variation, with an elevated mulch ring about a foot or more out from the tree, but not against the trunk. This seems to make more sense to my brain. Interesting too that it's usually landscapers doing the mulch volcanoes and organizations planting trees for environmental reasons that use the mulch ring strategy.
 
Casie Becker
gardener
Posts: 2321
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
470
2
cat rabbit urban cooking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I actually love the mulch ring when I am planting new trees... actually I usually do a mulch u on the down slope side to maximize rainwater retention in the root zone.  If I hose watered more I would do the full ring.  A u seems better foe water catchment
 
pollinator
Posts: 814
Location: Porter, Indiana
99
trees
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm usually pretty leery of blanket statements that something is either good or bad. I'd be willing to bet that for at least one type of tree volcano mulching is perfectly fine, and for another type of tree it's tantamount to a death sentence.
 
There are 10 kinds of people in this world. Those that understand binary get this tiny ad:
Building a Better World in your Backyard by Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop
https://permies.com/w/better-world
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic