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  • Writer's pictureDavid the Tree Guy

How A Bark Mulch Tree Bed Can Improve The Health Of Trees


One question I get asked regularly is: How can I improve the health of my tree? We know that each individual tree is affected by different factors. But overall, one of the best things you can do to improve general tree health is to build a mulch tree bed.

A mulch tree bed helps trees retain moisture, especially in our area of the world. Alberta is a semi-arid region, and for the most part in summer, the climate is hot and dry. And this leads to trees in Alberta struggling to retain moisture during certain times of the year. It’s also important to note that some trees are more susceptible to a lack of moisture than others. For example, trees that have grass growing around and up to their trunk fall into this category. Another example is when young shade trees are newly planted directly onto a grass lawn, and end up having their growth stunted and taking twice as long to grow. They also require special care as they can be easily damaged by lawn care equipment

Main Benefits Of A Bark Mulch Tree Bed

  1. Mulch significantly reduces weeds and grass from growing near the tree. And that’s beneficial to tree health, since weeds and grass create competition for moisture, especially for young shade trees.

  2. Mulch reduces water evaporation and water loss around the tree. Without mulch, under the heat of the sun, a large amount of moisture will evaporate out of the soil. Also, the surrounding grass will almost always out-compete trees for moisture.

  3. A thick layer of bark mulch helps keep the soil cool in the summer. Most trees, especially Birch, like cool, moist, well-drained soil. At the minimum, it is recommended by many landscape experts to have at least 4 inches of mulch but be careful not to bury the roots

How To Add A Tree Bed Into Your Landscape

If you want to incorporate a tree bed into your landscape you have a few options. First, you can hire a reputable landscape company to install a bark mulch tree bed. If you decide on this option, it’s a good idea to get multiple estimates from a few companies, so that you can compare. Two companies that I can recommend are and However, another option is to build the tree bed yourself.

Preparation To Build A Tree Bed

If you decide to build a tree bed on your own, first assess the area around the tree. If you have grass surrounding the tree, you must carefully excavate the grass from the ground. Here, we recommend a sharp flat-bottomed shovel. Carefully cut the thin layer of grassroots horizontally along the ground and remove the sod in strips around the trunk. You must be very careful not to cut the tree roots, as they grow very shallow to the surface to get oxygen. Once you have excavated enough grass to create a sufficient sized tree bed, lay down a landscape fabric of your choice against the soil just above tree roots.

There is also another approach that some people find to be quicker and simpler, which is to simply cut the grass as short as possible and smother it with chips. Cutting in an edge on mature trees can damage roots, especially shallowly rooted trees like spruce so you must always remember to be careful.. Earth edges are fine as well, no bricks required.

How To Determine Tree Bed Size

Determining the size of the tree bed largely depends on the tree trunk diameter and/or drip line of the tree. Another factor that impacts the size is the availability of landscape space, as well as your personal preferences. For example, we would recommend a 5-foot tree bed for a tree with a trunk diameter of 5 inches. One foot for every inch of trunk diameter is an ideal formula for determining tree bed size

Bark Mulch & Border Options

Before you lay the bark mulch, you will need to decide on the type of tree bed border and the type of mulch you would like to use. With tree bed borders, you could use brick, landscape ties, and various other decorative borders. One of my favorite's borders would be brick. It’s aesthetically pleasing to the eye and practical. If you lay the brick in the ground low enough so that only the top of the brick sticks out, then you can run the lawnmower over the grass along with the brick.

This eliminates the need to use a weed-eater for the edging later on. When choosing the type of bark mulch to fill your tree bed, there are many types to choose from. In the springtime, many retail stores offer bags of mulch, in a wide variety of colors – some popular colors are light brown, dark brown, and red. And if you need a larger amount, some landscape companies sell mulch by the truckload and may have delivery services available.

The best option is to fill the bed with natural wood chips. In Edmonton, the Chip Drop website offers free wood chips that can be dropped off on your driveway, from different local tree companies, including David The Tree Guy. If you live in and around Edmonton you can register for the service, and when an arborist team is in the neighborhood and has a load of wood chips, we can drop it off on your driveway or the corner of the yard that you specify beforehand.

We hope you find this article helpful.

At David The Tree Guy, we are always willing to help you out with any questions on how to improve your landscape.

Happy Growing Everyone!

David The Tree Guy and Team

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