Q: My mother lives in Ohio. She calls this tree her “beaver tree” because there is something eating away at the base. Could you let us know what to do to save the tree?
A: I worked for three years in Cincinnati on “Garden Sense” for the DIY Network. I remember that they commonly use composted hardwood material as a mulch around trees and shrubs. The black mulch is attractive but it sure holds a lot of water.
It looks to me like the mulch was piled up way too high around the base of your mother’s tree…leading to bark and trunk rot.
The best practice is to keep all mulch back 6 – 12 inches from the trunk of a tree or shrub. This insures that dampness is not held too close to the bark, which avoids many problems.