Bark Mulch Weed Control For Around Trees

We have 6 fruit trees in our back yard,  three of which are just in the middle of the grass.  I was so tired of the weeds and having to trim the grass right up against my tree trunks, so I installed weed barrier and bark mulch.  This is  a great thing not only for the trees health, but for the look of the yard and the ease of  maintenance around it. But you have to do it the right way or it can hurt and possibly kill  your trees!

Mulch Weed Control Around Trees

Mulch Weed Control Around Trees

I looked up a bunch of good sites online to make sure that I was doing it right.  Here are the sources that I came across that were very helpful.  They have a lot of good information.


Some Benefits of Mulching Around Trees in Lawn Areas.

  • Improve the look of your lawn area.
  • Reduce weeds around the tree.
  • Keep lawnmowers and grass trimmers from scaring tree trunks.
  • And many more benefits in the articles listed above.

Tools Needed

  • Shovel, spade or flat or both.  Use the shovel to cut out the grass around the circle edge.
  • Rake for leveling the ground and mulch.
  • Wheelbarrow to place the cut sod in and any weeds.
  • Spray Paint for paint the tree ring.
  • Hammer for setting the staples.
  • Gloves
  • Sod knife (optional) for cutting the sod and use in other parts of your yard.

Materials Needed

  • Weed Barrier Fabric for under the bark mulch.  $10 for 50 feet.
  • 4″ Garden Staples to keep the weed barrier from moving.  You can get a ten pack for under $2.50 or cheaper if you buy in bulk.
  • Bark Mulch.  I used a dark brown chocolate color.  For one tree with a 2 foot radius there  is a total of 12.56 sq ft.  At a depth of 2 inches you would need 2 cf of mulch.  You can buy 2 cf bags of mulch for under $5 at most garden centers.

Step One

Paint a ring around the tree.  Make sure to make a large circle around the tree.  The wider the circle the better.  We decided to do at least 2′ around these small fruit trees.  We used a 2′ stick to keep the circle uniform.

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Step two

Remove all the grass and weeds from around the tree.  Use your spade shovel to cut straight down into the grass where you painted.   The flat shovel was good for cutting under the roots of the grass to keep the sod in big pieces.

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We wanted to save the grass for some patch work around the new patio and around the yard.  It worked out perfectly.

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Step three

Cut out the fabric weed barrier and staple it in place.  I think we used about 5-10 4″ garden staples.  Just enough for the keep it from curling up while we poured the mulch on.

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Step four

Spread out a layer of mulch. Just keep in mind not to cover up the root flares of the tree.   Here is a good example of how the root flare should look.  This particular tree doesn’t have big root flare, but bigger trees will.  Any part of the tree that has bark should not be covered up.  Trapped moisture could cause damage to the tree.  This was about 1-2″ deep around the edges and not as deep by the trunk.

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Doesn’t that look much better?   The tree on the left is finished and the tree on the right will be next.  This is the same mulch that we used on the paths in our raised garden box area.  It’s nice to see the same material throughout the yard.

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Now they are both done.  This will make it a lot easier to mow around, causing damage tot he tree and I won’t have to trim at all. 

Mulch Weed Control Around Trees

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I am the husband of the amazing Cassity of Remodelaholic. I love to problem solve and to design and build things inside and outside the house to make life better. I am a professional Landscape Architect by trade and love the outdoors.

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  1. Looks great! I’m a fan of dark brown mulch, too. Can’t wait to see it all finished.
    When you’re done…Want to come work on mine? 😉 Can’t seem to get hubby interested.
    He’s too busy enjoying our new grandson on his days off from work. 🙂

    Jake’s a Girl

  2. Thanks for the tip. I actually tried it out last night around our light post at home. It looks great. Now we will do same to the trees in our yard. 🙂

  3. Love this, but I hate weed barrier fabric (and so did our landscape designer & landscaper), so we used Preen before putting down the mulch & have had virtually no weeds come through our 3-4″ layer of mulch (which was what was recommended to keep the weeds at bay).

    1. Interesting! I wonder how long it will last? It is good to hear different ideas though!! (if you hate weed barrier you can so a few layers of newspaper too!)

  4. Make sure you don’t have the mulch directly around the trunk, this invites disease and insects, otherwise, looks fantastic. I have also found out that using edging is not good because it impedes the shallow feeder roots of the apple trees. I need to take mine out…but my trees will look like yours when I’m done.

  5. Yikes! Just came across this PIN and couldn’t bring myself to not say something, since it’s on a website that so many of us count on for help. The photo looks like the ‘flare’ of the tree truck is covered; as if the mulch goes all the way to the trunk.

    I learned the hard way about ‘burying’ a tree in mulch. That it should never EVER touch the bark of the trunk, and you should always be able to see some of the ‘flare’ at the base of the tree. Otherwise, it’ll stress the tree and invite pests and decay down there. It can take 5-10 years to kill it this way — but when it happens, it happens FAST. Lost two once-gorgeous crabapples and a phenomenal Japanese Maple this way.

    They started out fine — with plenty of air and light at the base — but, the mulch turned to soil very quickly, and it only took a few years to eventually ‘choke’ the poor things.

  6. I am a volunteer who maintains a lot of trees along trails and in parks. I have used regular mulch in the past, but the weeds come up through the mulch or actually grow in the mulch. I usually keep a three foot mulch diameter around the tree. We plant new trees every year and I have concluded that planting a tree is the easiest part of the job. Weeding, mulching, watering, pruning and trimming are much more difficult and time consuming. I have looked at tree rings of recycling rubber, but the weed suppression part is flimsy, the projected life-time is only a few years and they are expensive. Also, I do not want to use any chemicals. So, I need something to suppress weeds safely, for a long period and is inexpensive. Does such a thing exist?

    1. That is a great question! I wish I new of a product. I just find that the deeper the mulch layer the better for keeping weeds out for a long period of time. Also having the weed barrier under the mulch. Thanks for the comment!