We love mulch as much as the next guy. Probably even more.

It looks great, keeps your plant roots nice and moist, combats weeds and is generally one of our favorite things.

If mulch is so great, a whole bunch of it must be even better, right?

Can you put down too much mulch?

You bet.

Cameron Cook, operations manager at Level Green Landscaping, tells you why — and what you can do about it.

Don’t Suffocate Your Plants

Our Level Green Landscaping crews spread about two inches of rich brown bark mulch in the spring to help beds retain moisture, deter pesky weeds and keep the landscape looking polished.

Landscape with trees surrounded by mulch

“Using more than that can lead to the death of your trees or shrubs,” Cook says.

Use more than a couple inches and your soil will become soggy, encouraging plant diseases, he says. Too much mulch will suffocate your plants’ roots. Just like you, they need air to breathe.

Signs Of Too Much Mulch

Is too much mulch bad for trees?


Check your tree’s root flare, Cook says — the place where the topmost root emerges from the trunk.

“That flare should be above ground — not buried under mulch,” Cook says.

Trees need to breathe and exchange gases through their bark and root hairs. They can’t do that if they’re suffocated by excess mulch.

Other signs of too much mulch:

  • Smaller than normal leaves
  • Leaves drop earlier than usual
  • Dead branches
  • Soft bark at the base of the tree
  • Rotted flower stems
  • Fungal diseases like phytophthora (Don’t worry — we won’t make you pronounce it)

You’ll sometimes see this moldy disease in vinca beds if the mulch is too deep, Cook says.

Beware Of Mulch Volcanoes

Yes, this sounds sort of cool, but it’s among the big over-mulching mistakes.

People think if mulch is so great, they really want to pile it on, mounding it right up against the tree.

But like we said, the base of your tree needs to breathe. Its roots need to access oxygen. Stifle it with a big mound of mulch and it can get mildew and root rot.

These mulch volcanoes trap moisture against the tree bark, encouraging disease. Damaging insects will burrow in and hang out there.

Keep mulch two or three inches away from the trunks of your trees to keep them happy and healthy.

Meet Our Mulch Reduction Service

Mistakes happen. Maybe you have too much mulch on your property, suffocating your trees and causing soggy plant roots.

Our mulch reduction service will take care of it. Crews will remove the excess, leaving you with just the right amount for healthy, happy plants.

We Get Mulch Just Right

Level Green Landscaping crew using mulch blowerHere at Level Green Landscaping, we’re mulch masters. No worries about not enough mulch or too much mulch. We get it exactly right.

And if you have too much, we’ll take care of it.

If you’re not already a Level Green Landscaping client, we’d love to add you to our growing list of happy customers.

Our focus is on commercial properties like offices, mixed-use sites, HOAs, municipalities and institutions in Maryland, Washington DC and parts of Virginia.

Contact us at 202-544-0968.

You can also request a free consultation online to meet with us one-on-one.

We’d love to hear from you.

Request a Consultation