The Q&A Archives: Mulching Trees

Question: We planted 3 purpleleaf plums on some property we bought in a valley of the Cascades in Southwest Washington State, Lewis County. Since it gets pretty dry there in the summer, I spread mulch around the base of the little trees which is composed of chipped up spruce, fir, hemlock and cedar branches. My question is, will the acid ph in the mulch hurt the trees? I can find nothing which tells which ph plums prefer. And, since I don't want to overmulch, what depth of mulch do you recommend?

Answer: According to the experts at Raintree Nursery, plum trees like soil that's slightly acidic. The mulch you used will help enrich the soil, prevent excessive evaporation of soil moisture, and keep the soil cooler in the hot summer months. A good rule of thumb is to apply a 3"-6" layer of organic mulch in an area beginning about 6" away from the trunk of the tree, extending to the branch tips of the tree. If you place mulch material up against the trunk of a tree, it might hold too much moisture against the bark and cause some problems with rot. Keep it a few inches away for best results.

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