Lesser-Known Risks of Improper Mulch Application

If you have a garden or lawn at home, you already know how beneficial mulching is. Many people use a mulch to control weed and retain soil moisture. This landscaping practice is also done to reduce soil erosion and improve the aesthetic of your lawn.

Different Types of Mulch

Organic and inorganic are the two kinds of mulch you can buy. Both types are used to cover the soil surface and discourage weeds. Most organic mulches are from natural origin materials like compost, dry leaves, sawdust, wood chips, and shredded bark. These materials help improve the soil condition as they decompose.

On the other hand, inorganic mulches are derived from non-plant materials like landscape fabrics, stones, and rocks. They don’t break down to enrich the soil, but they retain moisture and protect the root zone.

However, too much mulch can do more harm than good. There are many dangers of improper application of organic mulch. It can be detrimental to trees, plants, and your landscape in general. Here is an overview of the damage that can be done when you get too aggressive in your mulch application.

Mulch Fire

Since mulch is made of organic materials, it is combustible. There’s a possibility that mulch will ignite and spread fire in your landscape. When you buy poor-grade mulch, the possibility of ignition increases. 

A single cigarette butt can cause a pile of mulch to catch fire. Other factors of mulch fire are warm temperatures, below-average rainfall, and high winds.

To reduce the risk of mulch fires, always keep your lawn moist and add a non-combustible barrier like stones or a rock bed. You should also keep your fire pit away from the mulch bed.

Trapped Moisture

Anything too much is good for nothing. When you pile mulch around the base of the tree, too much water will remain in the soil. Trapped moisture causes the roots to rot, which can result in tree death.

Bark Decay

When the mulch absorbs too much water, the tree bark will begin to decay and decompose. This is because the trunk’s cells cannot function if there’s too much moisture. Aside from bark decay, incorrect mulching will produce various trunk diseases.

Circling Roots

Most of the time, roots grow actively towards water sources. Roots search for water to absorb and transport them to stems. When there’s too much moisture within mulch, the roots will tend to look upward instead of downwards. 

As the root systems find their way toward the water, they will begin to around the tree. Deep mulch gives rise to girdling or circling roots. The tree itself becomes unstable as the roots become too shallow. You can fix this problem by pruning the circling roots and replanting the tree during its dormancy.


Plants need oxygen just like us, humans. When you apply excessive mulch, you might suffocate the root systems. Too much mulch reduces soil oxygen for roots. Moreover, the excess water in the soil prevents them from receiving oxygen. If you don’t apply mulch the right way, you’re literally choking them. 

Plants Exposed to Excessive Heat

Organic mulch has insulating abilities. As the mulch decomposes, they give off heat that increases the soil temperature. Excessive mulch will prevent heat from escaping. That’s why the correct application is important to avoid damage to your landscape.

Dry Soil

A mulch volcano will do the opposite of retaining moisture. This improper mulching technique stops rainwater from penetrating the soil. If this happens, the soil will become dry and cracked after. 

Pest Infestation

Improper mulching attracts spiders, ants, and other pests. Mulch beds serve as a haven for insects and small animals. They find shelter under a pile of organic mulch. Since mulch becomes organic matter after some time, pests and harmful organisms tend to thrive there. Pest infestation is an obvious threat to your trees. Make sure to only follow proper mulching tips to avoid such problems.

Count on Our Mulching Experts

If you want to save yourself from these mulching issues, let Midstate Landscaping help you. We offer comprehensive landscaping and mulching services at competitive rates. Mulch application is beneficial for your lawn when done properly by the experts.

For any landscaping-related questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our professionals are here for your lawn care needs. Schedule an appointment with us to get started!