Q. I read with interest your article in the Sunday RJ regarding the mulching of fruit trees. The article included the comment "Mulch was kept 12 inches away from the tree trunks." Why was that done? I recently mulched my fruit trees but surrounded the trees with red cedar mulch right up to the trunks.
A. It is kept away from the trunk because of people watering too often. If you are watering frequently, wet mulch against the trunk can cause a serious disease problem called collar rot. Keeping the mulch a short distance from the trunk helps keep the trunk dry.It doesn’t have to be a foot away. It can be 6 inches away but 12 inches is easier for most people to gauge. Once the tree is older and the bark is thicker, this is seldom a big problem. But on young trees I strongly suggest doing it.