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Plants & Gardens Blog

Much Ado About Mulch

Spring is a terrific time of year to remove salt-sprayed, winter-worn mulch and treat your street tree to a fresh dressing. And Hurricane Sandy left Brooklyn with an abundant surplus of wood chips to use.

For small quantities of free mulch, shovel as many bags as you can take from Green-Wood Cemetery. Enter at 25th Street and 5th Avenue and ask the guard for the mulch pile. This entrance is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 718-210-3080 with any questions. For a big project, like mulching all the trees on your block, contact a local tree pruner. They’ll likely deliver a truckload of wood chips—for free!

Spread a layer of wood chips over the tree bed two to three inches deep and no higher; more is not better! And make sure you keep the mulch layer six inches away from the trunk—think bagel shaped, not volcano—since mulch can rot the bark and cause tree death.

Please contact me at [email protected] with your mulch and tree care questions! For more information on mulching and street tree care, see the following articles: “Street Tree Bed Care: Give Trees a Chance,” “Street Tree Stewardship,” and “Caring for City Street Trees.”

Maureen O’Brien is the community field manager at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

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