Mulching Trees & Shrubs

Double ground mulch is available for Geneva residents during normal business hours between 7:30 and 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday at the City's Public Works Department, 1800 South St. People should check in at the front desk first.

Mulch is an organic material spread on the soil surface to protect plant roots from heat, cold and drought conditions.

Mulching Benefits

Overall, mulching will help promote root growth and better tree, shrub and plant survival.

  • Mulch provides an insulation layer that helps moderate temperature extremes. Mulching will keep the soil warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer compared to bare soils. Roots are protected from temperature extremes.
  • Mulching will conserve soil moisture. Bare soil conditions will heat up and cause water evaporation. Mulch will reduce water evaporation, conserving soil moisture for optimal root development and help reduce wasted watering during high summer temperatures.
  • Mulching will improve the soil's fertility components. Mulch will increase organic matter in the surface of heavy clay soils and improves the water-holding capacity of light, sandy soils. Mulch will convert to humus during decomposition and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous are slowly released.
  • Mulching will prevent erosion. Mulch will slow the dispersion of the soil during rain events or sprinkler activity. Mulch reduces water and soil runoff by holding water until it soaks into the soil.
  • Mulching also will help keep weed growth to a minimum.

Proper Mulching Techniques

Two common mistakes in mulch application are applying the material with too much depth and mounding the mulch on plant bases, trunks and stems.

Proper applications should include:

  • Spreading mulch to a depth of 2 to 4 inches around trees, shrubs and planting beds;
  • Not applying mulch up to the tree base. Pull mulch away from the tree base to create a saucer or donut at the base of the tree. Never build a volcano of mulch, which is piling mulch up to the base of the tree. If mulch is allowed to be applied against the tree base, moisture will build up, creating ideal conditions for insect pests, diseases and girding roots.
  • Extending the mulched area for tree application to the drip line of the branches or at least covering a 4- to 5-foot diameter area around the tree base/trunk.