Q: I’m confused about “proper mulching”. I see references everywhere that I’m supposed to mulch but no information on how to do it correctly. I’ve been told by a fellow gardener that I’m mulching too close to my plants. Could you provide detail as to mulching around trees, shrubs and perennials.
A: Mulching is vital for plant health in Georgia so it is important to know how to do it correctly. In general, wood or pine chip mulch should be no deeper than two inches. The same depth applies to shredded leaf mulch. Pine straw mulch can be 2 – 4 inches thick. Mulch should cover the soil wherever roots grow. Tree and shrub roots extend at least out to the drip line but usually further.
Do pull the mulch away from the base of your plants: three inches away in all directions for annuals and perennials, six inches for woody plants. Although some landscapers provide a bad example, NEVER pile mulch high around the trunk of a tree.